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  • Writer's pictureVivienne Boucherat


Updated: Jan 27

So another Christmas – what happened to 2022?

I got to wondering about our Christmas and New Year traditions. As we know, the Christian

holiday honouring the birth of Jesus overlaid many secular and ancient pagan traditions

which celebrated the Winter Solstice around 21 st December – and which has possibly been

observed since as far back as 10,200 BC!

Celebrations have continued and evolved ever since! Traditions have been introduced,

replaced and become entwined with each other over time – there are many books about

this subject. Feasting, drinking and making merry seems to be pretty universal! Sacrifices -

perhaps a bit less so. Decorations, once consisting of sheep’s guts hanging from outdoor

trees have become tinsel on pine trees brought indoors.

Holly and ivy, which we still associate with Christmas, were believed to ward off evil spirits

and celebrate new growth. The pagan tenet was that the holly plant was male and the ivy

female. In Christian times holly wreaths came to symbolise the crown of thorns worn by

Christ on the cross – and the berries symbolised drops of blood.

And mistletoe? This dates back to the ancient Druids who, again, believed it would ward off

evil spirits – but also that it brought good luck. In Norse mythology it symbolised love –

which is where the tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe originated.

Christmas is held simultaneously in the Northern AND Southern hemispheres; it has become

a worldwide cultural holiday for Christians and non-Christians alike.

New Year has undergone more fundamental changes. It was originally observed at the first

new moon following the Vernal equinox, so - in late March. The earliest recorded New Year

Celebrations were in Babylon 4,000 years ago - in mid-March when crops were planted.

The Julian calendar was introduced under Julius Caesar and New Year became 1 st January.

January is named after Janus - the god of all beginnings – so it’s quite apt really. This date

was accepted slowly around the world. It was accepted as New Year’s Day in England as late

as 1752. Remember, everyone observed different calendars – again - there are entire books

about that!

Some countries don’t celebrate New Year on 1 st January to this day, like China, which follows a lunisolar calendar. Chinese New Year usually falls between 20 th January and 20 th February.

Still others, like Thailand, hold their New Year in April.

New Year’s resolutions? Some sources tell us they began in the late 1700’s and some state

this started as a tradition as far back as 4,000 years ago with those Babylonians again!

Whether you make them or not – I hope you realise your full potential and I wish you great

love and success for the whole of 2023.

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