Name and Peace

The names... Words? Or deeper than what we ever think? Share with us:What does your name mean and why it may be connected to Peace... Thank you!

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The Meaning of New Year'sTraditions by Waverly Fitzgerald from Beliefnet

New Year's Eve, with its emphasis on romance and indulgence, might seem like a totally secular celebration. But underneath all that glitter and sparkle is an ancient holiday with deep spiritual roots. For centuries, and in similar ways, people have been observing the end of one year and the beginning of another.

Ancient Romans celebrated with six days of carousing that would probably be familiar to us today. St. Boniface, a missionary from England who visited Rome in 742, was appalled at how the Romans celebrated Kalends of January, as the New Year was called, with "dancing in the streets, heathenish cries, sacrilegious songs, tables laden with food and women wearing amulets and offering them for sale."

A Time of Rebirth
Because the Winter Solstice is the turning point of the year, beginning the lengthening of days, it has long been viewed as the birth of the year--by pagans celebrating the return of the Sun, and by Christians welcoming the birth of the Son of God. The days between Solstice and the New Year are a magical, luminous time period, when anything is possible. In England, the Twelve Days of Christmas were considered omen days which could be used to predict the weather in the coming year. In Scotland, no court had power during these days; and in Ireland, tradition held that if a person died during the Twelve Days, he or she went straight to Heaven.

In ancient Babylon, the days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year were seen as the time of a struggle between Chaos and Order, with Chaos trying to take over the world. Other cultures (Hindu, Chinese, Celtic) also viewed this as a time for reversing order and rules-celebrants would change roles with servants or dress in costumes for a time until order was restored.

Starting Fresh
While each culture's New Year celebration has its own flavor, there are certain common themes. The period leading up to New Year's Day is a time for setting things straight: a thorough housecleaning, paying off debts, returning borrowed objects, reflecting on one's shortcomings, mending quarrels, giving alms. In many cultures, people jump into the sea or a local body of water-literally washing the slate clean.

In some towns in Italy, I've been told, you have to watch out for falling objects, as people shove their old sofas, chairs and even refrigerators out of their windows on New Year's Eve. In Ecuador, people make dummies, stuffed with straw, to represent the events of the past year. These "ano viejo" effigies are burned at midnight, thus symbolically getting rid of the past.

Whatever preparations are made, most traditions teach that they should be completed before midnight on New Year's Eve. According to British folklore, you should not sweep on New Year's Day, or you will sweep your good luck away, or take anything out of the house-even trash. You only want to bring new things in to insure abundance in the coming year. If you must carry something out, be sure to bring something else in first, preferably a coin concealed outside the previous night. As this medieval poem reminds us:

Take out, then take in
Bad luck will begin
Take in, then take out
Good luck comes about

Rituals (and Underwear) for Good Fortune
Everything you do on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is freighted with significance for the future. The American custom of spending the night with the one you love and kissing them at midnight insures that the relationship will flourish during the coming year. In Rio de Janeiro, more than a million people gather on the beaches on December 31st to honor Yemanja, the Yoruban "Mother of the Sea," who brings good fortune.

Even the color of underwear Brazilians wear on the first day of the new year has meaning. Pink brings love, yellow, prosperity; and white, peace and happiness.

The pig is the symbol of good luck in Vienna, Austria. Pigs are let loose in restaurants and everyone tries to touch them for luck as they run by. In private homes, a marzipan pig, with a gold piece in its mouth, is suspended from a ribbon and touched instead. In Greece, it's customary to throw a pomegranate wrapped in silver foil on the threshold, to spread the seeds of good luck for an abundant year.

In Spanish-speaking countries, people put twelve grapes into their wine or champagne class at midnight. The grapes represent the months of the old year and the new one. At the stroke of midnight, after toasting each other with the wine, people eat the grapes as quickly as possible, making a wish on each one.

Food and Money: Ensuring Abundance
As everything has significance on New Year's Day, the first person to cross your threshold after midnight brings luck to the household in the British Isles. In Scotland, the best possible "first-footer" was a tall, handsome, dark-haired man, who brought gifts of whisky, bread, a piece of coal or firewood, and a silver coin. He entered in silence, and no one spoke to him until he put the coal on the fire, poured a glass of whisky for the head of the house and wished everyone a Happy New Year. In France, the children knock on their parents' bedroom door, pretending to personify health, abundance and joy, which the parents welcome.

Food eaten on New Year's Day is said to affect the quality of the coming year. The ancient Romans exchanged bay and palm branches hung with sweets, dates, figs and gilded fruits. The items hung on the branch expressed hopes the new year would be sweet, fertile, and prosperous.

Neapolitans still wrap dried figs in laurel leaves and exchange them as a kind of insurance of abundance for the coming year. They also make confections of caramelized dough and tiny almond pieces, so the year will be sweet.

The Piedmontese eat little grains of rice which represent money. The traditional Umbrian New Year's cake, made of almonds, sugar, and egg whites, is shaped like a coiled snake, probably to represent the way snakes shed their skin to renew themselves, just as people leave behind the old year and embrace the new. Italians also serve lentils, raisins, and oranges, symbols of riches, good luck, and the promise of love.

In the American South, it's traditional to eat cornbread, cabbage, and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. The peas symbolize coins or copper money, the cornbread gold, and the cabbage green or folding money.

A Japanese New Year's custom is the money tree: pine and cypress branches placed in a vase, and decorated with old coins and paper pomegranates and flowers. Old coins (with holes in them) are strung on colored threads in the shape of dragon and put at the foot of children's beds. This is called "cash to pass the year." It is supposed to be saved and not spent. However, money is given as a gift, usually in red envelopes.

Although many of these customs may seem like superstitions, they all stem from a similar belief: by ending the old year with respect and beginning the new one in the way we would like it to begin, we establish our intentions for the new year. Whether we gather together to watch the ball drop in Times Square or set off firecrackers at midnight or clink champagne glasses with our loved ones, we are acknowledging an important transition and welcoming a fresh start. May your New Year be rich with all of the blessings you desire.

Discussion Forum


Started by bharat nagori. Last reply by Deniz Kite Nov 26, 2008. 1 Reply

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Comment by Molly on November 30, 2008 at 6:24am
Rabanta thats facinating i can see many places where that could make sense. Deniz i think some how theres s connection with a "soul" so to say or whatever it may be, has a connection or some relationship with a name giving the "soul" more character.
ive always was told that my name matched my personality; Warm,bubbley and friendly. and now that ive been updated pale complection :D
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 29, 2008 at 12:04pm
Some quotes I liked much...

If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things. by Confucius

Words have meaning and names have power.

Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names. A Japanese Proverb

Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable. by W.H. Auden
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 29, 2008 at 11:57am
Ciao Irene! So we have a pure Peace-maker here in this group! Thank you for your message
Comment by Irene Brautigam on November 28, 2008 at 10:25pm
Hello Everyone
I just couldn't resist in joining this group as the name Irene actually means peace and has quite naturally been something that I strive for and have spent a great deal of time in my life trying to be the "peace maker". In my life I have found that "peace making" was just naturally a responsibility of mine long before I discovered what my name actually meant. So in answer to a question below, I think we begin to fulfill the meaning of our name from the moment we are born. My heart goes out to India this week as well.
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 28, 2008 at 2:37pm
I hope you like the result of my promise Rebanta!


Freedom isn’t easy,
Like riding a wild horse;
You need to know how to handle,
The wildness of thoughts.

A hunter God,
Also the God of Hunting
They called Rebanta,
Who was the Swarga of the Deva,
He could ride the wildest horse ever.

Yes, he really could ride,
Because he realized
Early enough,
That not the thoughts but the emptiness
Was the base of creation.

So each time,
With his empty mind,
Not thinking if anything was wild or not,
Not thinking of hunting or being hunted,
He re-wrote his destiny;
Over and over and over again;
Like an artist painting
Over and over and over again;
About the life and beyond.
Deniz Kite, 28th November 2008, Istanbul, listening to Vivaldi
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 28, 2008 at 8:27am
Dear Molly, Irene and Tony, welcome! Ihave a friend called Molly, she told me how her mother wanted a daughter even before she was born!

Do we "call" our names before we are born or do we start "fulfilling" this name after weare born?

This is Rebanta, related to your previous question, as well.
Comment by Rebanta Goswami on November 28, 2008 at 8:02am
'Malai' is the Cream of milk in Hindi and Bengali. The Irish word goes with it very well.
Thanks Deniz, for your deep concern with India. In Kolkata we are safe yet.
Comment by Molly on November 28, 2008 at 3:16am
In Irish Molly is a nick-name for Mary in other terms Malai means Wish-for Child
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 27, 2008 at 10:25pm
Rebanta, Devanayagi and Bharat,
I am so very sorry about the recent sad events in India. I hope you are all fine and I wish India and all the world, peace and love.
Comment by Deniz Kite on November 27, 2008 at 10:22pm
Ciao Inthistogether! Welcome!
Well, about your name: yes maybe an explanation isnt necessary but how it started is quite unique.. Thanks for sharing.

For peace I dont know but either we develop a good future or destroy all; yes indeed, we are inthistogether!

Have a fine evening

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