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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Sixteenth Square: Hogmanay / NYE / Watchnight / St. Sylvester's Day / Kwanzaa Ends

I’m willing to bet there isn’t anyone who doesn’t know and understand the point of New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day, but around the world cultures celebrate in unique ways:





Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is normally followed by further celebration on the morning of New Year's Day or, in some cases, 2 January—a Scottish bank holiday.


The origins of Hogmanay aren’t clear, but it’s possibly derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. Customs vary throughout Scotland, and usually include gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours, with special attention given to the first-foot, the first person to enter the home of a household on New Year's Day and a bringer of good fortune for the coming year.


In some places throughout Scotland, the first footer can be the resident but they must not be in the house at the stroke of midnight in order to first-foot (so going out of the house after midnight and then coming back into the same house doesn’t count). 


The first-foot usually brings several gifts, including a coin (silver is considered good luck), bread, salt, coal, evergreen, and/or a drink (whisky is preferred, of course!), which represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, long-life, and good cheer respectively. 




In many different Christian traditions, such as those of Baptists, Methodists and Pentecostals, watchnight services are held late on New Year's Eve, and ends after midnight. This late night service allows Christians to review the year that has passed and make confession, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions for the new year.  The services often include singing, praying, exhorting, and preaching.  It’s believed that Watchnight services have added significance in the US African-American community, since many slaves were said to have gathered in churches on New Year's Eve, in 1862, to await news about the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, on January 1, 1863.



St. Sylvester’s Day

Saint Sylvester's Day celebrates the feast day of Pope Sylvester I, a saint who served as Pope of the Western Christian Church from 314 to 335 and oversaw both the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I's conversion to Christianity.  Different countries have different traditions, but the day is generally marked by church attendance, as well as fireworks, partying, and feasts.


In the capital of Austria, Vienna, people walk pigs on leashes in hope to have good luck for the coming year. 


Many Christian households in Germany mark Saint Silvester's Day by practicing the custom of Bleigiessen using Silvesterblei (Silvester lead), in which the lead is melted over a flame in an old spoon and dropped into a bowl of cold water.  The shape the lead makes is said to tell one's fortune for the coming year: If the lead forms a ball (der Ball), luck will roll one's way; the shape of an anchor (der Anker) means help in need; a star (der Sterne) signifies happiness.


In Belgium, tradition maintains that a maiden who does not finish her work by the time of sunset on Saint Silvester's Day will not get married in year to come.

Italians celebrate the day with lentils and slices of sausage; they look like coins and symbolize good fortune and la dolce vita for the coming year.


In Switzerland, the children of Christian families compete with one another to see who can wake up the earliest; the child who arises the latest is playfully teased.



Kwanzaa Ends

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held primarily in the United States and honors African heritage in African-American culture.  It culminates in a feast and gift-giving.  created by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has seven core principles, called Nguzo Saba.  


A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani?which is Swahili for "How are you?”


(source: wikipedia)