David Christy (column mug)ENE

This column first ran Dec. 27, 2014.

Fast away the year old year passes, fa la la la la, la la la la!

No, this isn’t a Christmas column, I just kept repeating that line from “Deck the Halls” to get my mind working on Christmas morning and get something down on paper — or in this case, a computer screen.

Now that the silly part of me is appeased, coffee has passed my lips and wafts of Vicks continue to chase away the remnants of a cold, here we go.

My lead up to New Year’s Day the past decade consists of watching football when I can, having to make that same dreaded resolution (exercise more) and figuring out who gets the first day of the year off on the news desk schedule.

For multiple millions of people across our Earth, it can mean something entirely different.

Probably too many Americans seem to want to go out and party, drink too much and wake up New Year’s Day wondering how in the heck they got home and why they didn’t wreck their cars. It’s not pretty.

Or, maybe they go the tame route, and just eat a bunch of black-eyed peas — a grand Southern tradition.

But in other nations not called the US of A, beliefs are far more involved.

When midnight strikes on Jan. 1, people in the Philippines believe actions can influence everything for the remainder of the year.

So, Filipinos wear polka dots and eat round fruits, which are supposed to ensure a more prosperous year to come.

OK, I can see women dressed in polka dots, but the men? Ouch!

In Spain, a nation that helped to establish our nation on this side of the Atlantic, they wolf down handfuls of grapes as the clock strikes 12 — again, to ensure a prosperous New Year, and make the grape growers everywhere smile broadly.

Fire is a big part of many New Year’s in other nations. The Scots have the festival of Hogmanay, where men from a town swing giant blazing fireballs over their heads as they march down streets. Since they had a lot of Druids running around in ancient times, the Scots see fire as a symbol of the sun, and to purify the coming year.

In Panama, popular celebrities and political figures have their effigies burned in bonfires.

Now this one has more than a little merit, particularly burning politicians in effigy. That one probably feels pretty darned good.

In Denmark, people have a tradition of jumping off of chairs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, a far more irreverent way to leap into the new year, so to speak.

From the website travelandleisure.com, other customs are kind of way out there.

In South Africa’s capital city of Johannesburg, locals throw old appliances out the window.

You know, kind of like certain areas in the South, where they stick the refrigerator and washing machine on the front porch.

In Colombia, residents of that South American nation tote empty suitcases around the block, hoping for a travel-filled year.

In one of the more bizarre customs, the Japanese wear a costume of the next year’s zodiac animal (2014 was a horse) to local temples, where bells ring 108 times.

Not too much different here on these shores, where a bunch of Americans act like the north end of a southbound horse on New Year’s Eve.

In Finland, a longtime tradition in that cold country is predicting the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes upon hardening.

A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ship forecasts travel, a pig means plenty of food.

So, what if you can’t find any shape? Well, I guess you have to put on a hooded robe the rest of the year and become a Druid — and move to Scotland.

In the old Russian state of Belarus, during the traditional celebration of Kaliady, unmarried women play games to predict who will be wed in the new year to come.

In one game, a pile of corn is placed before each woman, and a rooster is let go. Whichever pile of corn the rooster goes to reveals who will first be married.

In another game, a married woman hides certain items around her house for her unmarried friends to find. The woman who finds bread is supposed to marry a rich husband, the one who finds a ring will marry a handsome one.

So, if tradition holds, I guess the one who finds a pile of old dog pooh is not going to find Mr. Right.

In certain parts of the Americas near the equator, it’s considered lucky to wear special underwear — bright reds and yellows!

For me, on New Year’s, I just hope I remember to wear some.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog

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Christy is news editor in charge of the layout desk and a columnist for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for David? Send an email to davidc@enidnews.com.

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3rd-generation journalist, Univ. of Oklahoma School of Journalism 1968-1972, OU Sports Information Office, sports editor Sherman (Texas) Democrat, editor weekly Waukomis Hornet, news editor Enid News & Eagle. Retired 27-year volunteer firefighter and EMT.

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