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Traditions ring in the new year
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PINELLAS COUNTY – Out with the old, in with the new – it’s party time. Residents are preparing to celebrate one of the oldest known holidays – New Year’s Day.

According to historical references published on numerous Internet sites, the first New Year’s party took place in Babylon about 4,000 years ago with celebrations that lasted 11 days.

While modern day festivities don’t usually last 11 days, most Americans do feel compelled to mark the changing of the calendar in some special way. According to www.snopes.com, traditional methods of celebration include:

• Kissing at midnight to ensure that affections and ties will continue throughout the coming year.

• Stocking up by filling the cupboards and putting money in the wallet is done to guarantee a prosperous next year.

• Paying off bills to ensure that the household is not in debt for the coming year.

• First footing is the belief that the first person to enter the home after midnight affects the coming year.

“Ideally, he should be dark-haired, tall and good-looking, and it would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts such as a lump of coal, a silver coin, a bit of bread, a sprig of evergreen, and some salt. Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck, and female first footers should be shooed away before they bring disaster down on the household. Aim a gun at them if you have to, but don’t let them near your door before a man crosses the threshold,” according to Snopes. “First footers must not be cross-eyed or have flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle.”

• Nothing goes out, not even the garbage. According to Snopes, some people do allow things to be removed from the house on New Year’s Day, but only if something else is brought in first.

• Eating black-eyed peas, which is a southern tradition, ensures both good luck and money for the coming year.

• Working at something related to employment should be done on the first day of the New Year to ensure success for the coming year. However, it is important not to work too much as its unlucky to work too much on New Year’s Day.

“Also, do not do the laundry on New Year’s Day, lest a member of the family be ‘washed away’ (die) in the upcoming months. The more cautious eschew even washing dishes,” according to Snopes.

• New clothes should be worn on Jan. 1 to ensure a plentiful supply of new clothes in the coming year.

• Money and other items of worth should not be paid back or lent on New Year’s Day or else one might be paying out for the rest of the year.

• Things should not be broken on New Year’s Day or else the trend could continue throughout the year. According to Snopes, the same goes for crying.

• Letting the old year out is another of the traditions listed on www.snopes.com.

“At midnight, all the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year escape unimpeded. He must leave before the New Year can come in, says popular wisdom, so doors are flung open to assist him in finding his way out,” according to Snopes.

• Loud noise at midnight is important, according to tradition, to scare away evil spirits. Loud noise includes fireworks and ringing of bells. Thus comes the phrase of “ringing in the New Year.”

• The weather also plays a part in ensuring a good next year. According to Snopes, if the wind blows from the south in the early hours of New Year’s Day, the coming year will have good weather. Wind blowing from the north will bring bad weather in the coming year. Wind blowing from the east will bring “famine and calamities.” Wind from the west will bring good supplies of milk and fish, but will also bring the death of an important person. No wind at all means the coming year will be joyful and prosperous.

• According to www.wilstar.com, people have been making New Year’s resolutions since the Babylonians started celebrating the date 4,000 years ago. Among the most popular resolutions made by people on New Year’s are to lose weight and quit smoking.

• Parades are included in New Year’s celebrations throughout the world. According to Wilstar, the Tournament of Roses Parade started in 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club in California decorated their carriages with flowers to celebrate the ripening of the orange crop.

• Modern day celebrations of New Year’s Day would not be the same without football. The first Rose Bowl was played in 1902, although Roman chariot races, replaced it for a few years. In 1916, football returned as the highlight of the festival and has continued ever since.

The schedule of this year’s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day football games, according to www.nationalchamps.net, include:

Friday, Dec. 31

Music City Bowl – Alabama vs. Minnesota, at Nashville, Tenn., noon on ESPN
Sun Bowl – Purdue vs. Arizona State, at El Paso, Texas, 2 p.m. on CBS
Liberty Bowl – Louisville vs. Boise State, at Memphis, Tenn., 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
Peach Bowl – Miami vs. Florida, at Atlanta, Ga., 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Georgia, at Tampa, 11 a.m. on ESPN
Cotton Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Tennessee, at Dallas, Texas, 11 a.m. on FOX
Gator Bowl – Florida State vs. West Virginia, at Jacksonville, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Capital One Bowl – Louisiana State vs. Iowa, at Orlando, 1 p.m. on ABC
Rose Bowl – Michigan vs. Texas, at Pasadena, Calif., 5 p.m. on ABC
Fiesta Bowl – Pittsburgh vs. Utah, at Tempe, Ariz., 8 p.m. on ABC

Monday, Jan. 3

Sugar Bowl – Auburn vs. Virginia Tech, at New Orleans, La., 8 p.m. on ABC
Tuesday, Jan. 4
Orange Bowl – Southern California vs. Oklahoma, at Miami, 8 p.m. on ABC
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