Today we began a new year, a blank chapter in the book that records our lives. What we write in this chapter is up to us, and every choice we make, every single day of this year, will be recorded in this chapter, whether or not we wish them to be. I’ve always thought of each new beginning, no matter whether it is New Year, week, day, hour or even minute as the instant after we get off of our knees after coming to God with a plea to forgive us our sins. In that moment we are washed clean, with a fresh page in front of us, waiting for the writing that will inevitably appear there. It is up to us, the choice is ours completely, what is written. Today let’s make the choices that will make this chapter a good one, without regrets, a chapter that we can look back on 365 days from now and be proud of and smile over how far we have come in this journey we call life.
Verse of the Day
January 1, 2019
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
It’s better than starting over! As Christians, we get a fresh and new start. God not only forgave us, pardoned us, ransomed us, and saved us, he also made us a new creation! And every time we come to him, every day we rededicate ourselves to serve him, and every new year we offer to him, we get a new start and a whole new world. So as we begin this new year, let’s begin by offering ourselves to him, asking him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and take leadership of our lives.
Food for Thought
Do you like yourself? Do you LOVE yourself? I know that many of us struggle with this from time to time, and often I feel that way at the beginning of a new year. It’s most often because I set goals for myself that I didn’t meet, and I mourn the loss of time when I could have been further along towards my goals for good health, organization, or anything else that I say that I want. Last year we were following one particular way of eating, but I found that it wasn’t beneficial to my thyroid, so after prayer and research, I found a new program that takes the principles I learned from low carb, combining them with Biblical foods that are listed by God as being on His approved list, and creating a healthier, more sustainable eating program were nothing ,except white sugar and plain, white, bad for you flour is off the table. Alternatives are offered, guidelines for cycling between lower carb and moderate carb meals, while teaching portion control and having a healthy attitude towards food and ourselves. Today was day 1, and I feel it went well. Day 1 usually does though. What is YOUR way of working through the negative towards something positive? Let’s make this a year of no regrets, and learning to like AND love who we are, inside and outside of our skin.
Copyright Law Day – This isn’t exactly an exciting one to celebrate, but it does have its practical purposes. Without copyright laws there would end up being a lot of fighting over who owns what, what is fair usage of someone else’s ideas, and who owns what intellectual property. I honestly think that people do take this way too far though. I’ve heard of lawsuits where a company of person sues another company or person to stop using a certain picture, name or motto because it is SIMILAR to one used by the company doing the suing. Seriously? Because it is similar? Get over yourselves! If your product, concept or whatever you have is worth it, people will remember no matter that other company uses something similar or not. Geesh! So, yes, we need to protect our ideas, logos, etc. but let’s not take things so far that we forget that there are a lot of people in the world and just because someone comes up with something close to yours, doesn’t mean they are actually going after your idea. They very likely never even heard of you and thought their idea was new and original.
Commitment Day – We all make commitments in our lives. Some are short term, like getting a certain chore completed, and some are serious, like a marriage vow. We say “I do”, “I will” or “I promise” in such commitments – and I suppose many do not understand the seriousness of what they are saying. Commitment itself is a beautiful thing, though the breaking of a serious commitment can be heart breaking. Many people today are making promises to themselves – to lose weight, to get better organized, to start or complete a project . . . and on this 1st day of this new year we mean those promises. Like a vow, let us mean what it is we promise, and fulfill our commitments to ourselves, and others, today. There is a difference between a resolution and a commitment – with the first Commitment Day being celebrated in 1960 as an extension of the traditional resolution making. Commitments are often made to people so that they can benefit from them, as well as ourselves. There must be someone in your life to whom a commitment would be meaningful . . . maybe you don’t spend enough time with your children, maybe you have failed to honor your commitment as a spouse by not being there for your significant other. By honoring a commitment made to the ones you love, you will feel better about life in general, and you will make their lives better in the process. Today make a heartfelt pledge and follow through on it.
Ellis Island Day – There is no way that I can briefly do justice to this topic, especially not in a short period of time. Ellis Island served as a gateway from other parts of the world to the United States from 1892 to 1954 – bringing over twelve million immigrants through just a small island in New York Harbor. It is located in the upper bay, just off of the New Jersey coast, right in the shadow of the Stature of Liberty! It started out 3.3 acres big, and over the years, after bringing in landfill and excess earth from the ballast of ships and the construction of the subway system, it grew to be 27.5 acres! Before it was designated as the first Federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis Island was known by more than one other name. The local Indian tribes called it “Kioshk” – or Gull Island. Because it had rich and abundant oyster beds, and profitable shad runs, it was known as Oyster Island for many generations during the Dutch and English colonial periods. In the 1770s the island became the private property of Samuel Ellis, and it had already been known as not only Kioshk and Oyster Island, but Dyre island, Bucking Island and Anderson’s Island. I couldn’t find a reason for those other names, at least not without taking longer for the research. The island developed over time from a little sandy spot that barely rose above the high tide mark, into a hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, an ammunition depot named Fort Gibson and eventually into an immigration station. There is SOOOO much more to tell you, but honestly, I just don’t think I can do it justice. If you are interested in reading into this further, please check out this site, it has a lot of information that is fascinating about such an important piece of U.S. History. What strikes me about this celebration is that THESE immigrants did it legally. They wanted to come to our country to become a part of the fabric of this amazing nation, to be a part of her growth and success. They came to pledge their allegiance to this nation, to its flag and to the constitution. They loved and remembered their mother lands, but they learned our language, they became Americans. They did not insist that America change for them but chose to change for America. This is the way that it was intended to be. It was not intended that WE change for other nations coming here, for us to accommodate THEIR languages, THEIR flags, THEIR religious zealotry. It was not intended that they be given a hand out, freebies on the backs of the hard working citizens who in some cases cannot easily make it on their own, much less support 10’s of thousands, if not millions of people who didn’t bother to come here legally, following the proper channels, assimilating into OUR culture, but expecting us to change for them. It is with loathing that I see politicians and the Hollywood weirdos ENCOURAGING the illegal entry to our country for their own political means, and I pray to God in Heaven to put a stop to this before we cease to be the nation we are and become a nation we do not recognize. Today we honor the memory of the legal immigrants who came through Ellis Island with a dream to become Americans, and we pray for the preservation of this America they helped to build.
First Foot Day – This is fascinating! First Foot Day marks the beginning of the New Year and it is said to bring luck. This was a tradition that started in Scotland, and from what I’m reading there are families in the United States who celebrate it too, but I’m wondering if this is more prevalent on the east coast than here. If anyone has ever celebrated this, I’d love to read your comments on it. Anyway, for those of us who had never heard of it before, this is what this celebration is all about: The term “First Foot” or “First Footing” comes from the first person to cross the threshold of a home on the first day of the New Year. Years ago, for good luck, the first person to enter a home should have been a dark-haired man. When he knocked on your door, he would have with him symbolic gifts of a silver coin, coal, shortbread, salt, and whiskey – for prosperity, warmth, food, flavor and good cheer. Now the dark-haired man could be a member of the household, but he had to be outside before midnight, and come back AFTER midnight. If he goes out and back in after midnight, he’s just wasted a trip. Apparently, the dark-haired part comes from the time of the Vikings – it wasn’t very good luck when a blond-haired stranger arrived on your doorstep with a big axe. And I can’t find out why, but apparently a female first foot is bad luck. The Outlander Series actually had a chapter on welcoming the New Year, and First Footing was a part of it. After reading about it for here, then seeing it there, I thought it was pretty interesting. Of course, because it’s a series of novels, they went into a lot of detail, so I found it to be very intriguing. Some of these traditions sound like so much fun – I wish we celebrated them still.
National Hangover Day – This one is observed every January 1st, but I do not normally list it. I feel like it almost gives kudos to people for drinking so much that it makes them sick, and I just can’t get behind that. I decided that this year I would, just because it is something different and new, so in honor of a new year, month and day . . . here we go! Since so many people get stupid drunk on New Year’s Eve, it makes sense that many of them would have a hangover the next day. For people who have never had one, or like me, haven’t had one for over 20 years, what are the symptoms of a hangover? Feeling tired is one. Our bodies metabolize toxins at a certain pace. Alcohol is a toxin, so right away the human body begins to break that down. When someone is drinking faster than the speed that the liver can process, they become intoxicated, which puts them at risk for a hangover. When the liver breaks down the alcohol it is producing acetaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical. The body produces glutathione to counter this chemical, but only can make so much at a time, not enough to combat a night of heavy drinking. Glutathione is a stimulant, so when we don’t have enough to get us through heavy drinking and detox, it makes us feel tired. Another symptom is an upset stomach. The alcohol promotes the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which in excessive amounts can make someone feel queasy, or make them vomit or have diarrhea. The one many people immediately see shown in movies and on TV shows or have experienced themselves even if they haven’t gotten actually sick, is a headache. Alcohol is a diuretic, and dehydration can lead to aches and pains, headaches and upset stomach. A hangover can be prevented by not drinking excessively, of course, but should one decide to make the decision to drink too much, eating a fat or protein loaded meal before, or while, drinking the first drinks, slows down how fast the alcohol gets into the bloodstream. Some people say the food is like a sponge, but it isn’t. It just slows things down. Fats and proteins take longer to digest, which makes the alcohol release into the blood stream more slowly. Drinking water, or staying hydrated, between drinks is a good idea. This dilutes the alcohol, giving the liver time to keep up to the pace of the drinking, and replacing the fluids lost through the dehydration caused by the alcohol. Seriously, one of the best things to do is take it slowly. Sip your drink, don’t slam it down, the longer that drink lasts, the fewer drinks you’ll end up having. Some people claim they have sure fire hangover cures. Really, the only surefire cure is time and a lot of fluids. Some things may help reduce the symptoms, but many just delay getting over the booze. One popular thing to do is have another drink when you get up in the morning, the saying is to “have a hair of the dog that bit you”, meaning that having what caused the hangover will cure it. Not so. It just delays recovery and puts more responsibility on the liver to fix what you have done to yourself. One thing you CAN do is to eat a banana. The potassium is lost while drinking, and eating one will replace it, which can ease any muscle aches or cramps come from the recovery process. We’ve all seen the movies when someone gives a drunk person a cup of coffee, hoping to sober them up. Coffee is a diuretic also, and it might temporarily stimulate the body, that doesn’t last and will also delay recovery. Many people pop a few pain killers, but once again, these put the liver into work mode and will delay recovery. The bottom line is that drinking to excess is never a good idea, it makes people make poor choices and really messes up the system. If you really feel the need, drink a lot of water, eat a fat/protein filled meal at the start of the evening and end it with more food.
Mummer’s Day – What’s a Mummer? Simply put, Mummers are entertainers in costume welcoming in the New Year! OK, that’s easy enough. Some of the earliest mummers date back to early Egypt, pagan Rome and Greece, England, Germany and France. Every nation has had its festivals, each having parades and displays of fanciful costumes. These have influenced customs and started many interesting traditions that have been passed down in each culture, from generation to generation. Eventually these traditions were brought to America by immigrants. Now, the Philadelphia Mummery tradition started in the late 17th century – continuing Old World customs of bringing in the New Year. Mummery in America is as unique to Philadelphia as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. In the beginning different neighborhood celebrations, all independent of each other, would go on everywhere to celebrate the new year. By the 1870s though, those groups turned their celebrations into an area-wide parade with two main groups participating – Fancy Dress and Comic clubs. The City of Philadelphia finally organized and sponsored the first official Mummers Parade on January 1, 1901! How fun!
Saint Basil’s Day – I’ve always been fascinated by celebrations from other countries that coincide with our traditional celebrations such as Christmas. This is one of those, and will get a little long winded, but I think that it’s worth it not to lose the flavor of the celebration. Here we go: Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Basil’s Day on January first. Most of us won’t have ever heard of St. Basil, but here’s a bit about him. He was born in central Turkey, and became famous for being intellectually brilliant, his care of the poor, and the rules he wrote to govern monastic life. Greeks celebrate this day with gift giving, carol singing, a special kind of bread, and a number of customs that were designed to attract good luck for the coming year. The Eve of St. Basil’s Day is also New Year’s Eve. On this long, dark night, friends and relatives gather together to wait for the start of the new year. They play cards or other games of chance on this night, as old superstitions link New Year’s Day with fortune telling. At midnight they all wish each other “Chrónia pollá ” (many years) or “Kalí chroniá ” (good year). The first person to enter a home after midnight determines the household’s luck for the upcoming year – see First Footing. They have the added step of bringing a religious image used in prayer and worship first through the door, with their arms outstretched in front of them to make sure it gets through the door first. Greek families may observe other superstitions on New Year’s Eve also -like opening windows at midnight to release any evil spirits that are hanging about the house. Another of their traditions encourages children and adults to go from house to house, singing carols called kalanda (Christmas Carols). One such Greek carol, called “Kalanda Pro-tochronias” honors the start of the New Year and the arrival of St. Basil from Caesarea in what is now Turkey. The carolers traditionally carry with them a paper star, a ship, an orange, an apple and a green branch from a dogwood tree. The singers would give a blessing to the families they visited by brushing them on the backs with the branch. They also went caroling on New Year’s Day, sometimes adding other symbolic acts that were thought to ensure the household’s luck, such as tossing wheat into their backyards, or prodding their fires. Not sure what those were intended to accomplish, but it was traditional, so they did it. On New Year’s Day families would gather together to share a loaf of special bread. The bakers would insert a coin into this sweet, braided bread (or cake, depending on which region of Greece they were in). Whoever got the coin in their slice of bread would have good luck in the coming year. The bread was always distributed in a ceremonial way though, with each slice meaning something special. The head of the household made the sign of the cross over the bread, and cut the 1st slice, which is “for Christ”. The 2nd and 3rd pieces were offered to St. Basil, and the Virgin Mary. The next piece went to the head of the household, and the remaining slices to the rest of the household, from oldest to youngest. An old Greek legend explains the origins of this custom of the bread. It said that when St. Bail was acting as the bishop of Caesarea, he was asked to return a sack of valuable items that had been collected from the people of the city. Some said that the items were collected by over-greedy tax collectors, others said by thieves. The people began to argue about what belonged to whom, so St. Basil sought divine aid in sorting out the disputes. He asked some women to bake the treasures into a large loaf of bread. When he sliced and gave out the pieces, everyone miraculously received only their own valuables. Today, being the feast day of St. Basil, have special religious services held in his honor. Traditionally Greek families open their holiday gifts on St. Basil’s Day. Actually, St. Basil, who visits Greek homes on New Year’s Eve, is their traditional Christmas season gift bringing. Some families leave out special foods for him – such as a glass of water and pomegranates, sweets, bread, fish or jellied pork pie – during the night so that the saint could refresh himself. In recent years foreign influences have brought some families to exchange presents on Christmas Day instead of St. Basil’s Day. Over the years there have been plenty of superstitions and folk charms attach themselves to New Year’s Day. Today many of them are still observed for fun. One activity is thought to predict one’s preoccupations in the coming year – people try to avoid arguing, sobbing or losing anything on this day. An odd combination of things, in my opinion. Some people eat sweets as a means of insuring that they will have a “sweet” new year. Others put on new clothes as a charm to guarantee that they will be well groomed all year long. When dinnertime comes, tables are set with plenty of food, insuring that the family will enjoy abundant provisions for the months ahead. We are so immersed and familiar with our own traditions, that sometimes we forget the rich cultural differences that are out there to be learned and appreciated.
Tournament of Roses Parade Day – This year was the 130th Rose Bowl Parade. How amazing is that? Not only that this parade has been celebrated on the 1st day of each New Year for 129 years, but it’s an ACTUAL parade that has maintained the meaning of what a parade really should be! I’ve watched several parades over the years, and the ones we see on TV have become ridiculous salutes to Broadway productions, and stroking the egos of any and all singers and actors who seem to think they are super special in every way. I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and what I saw would be a glimpse at a float or a band, to be quickly panned over to some sort of over hyped musical number in the street. It was annoying. Last year was the first time I’ve watched the Tournament of Roses Parade in many years and it was so refreshing to see bands, drill teams, actual floats, horses and cars with happy people waving at the crowds. Not a professional musical performance in sight, which made me happy. Have you watched a REAL parade lately? Did you watch THIS one?
This Day in History
1735 – Paul Revere was born.
1878 – Emma M. Nutt becomes the first woman telephone operator.
1908 – The ball was first dropped at Times Square in New York City.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Bloody Mary Day – Welcome to a new year! What better way to embrace a red-eyed morning after a blowout night than with a tall glass of everyone’s favorite morning-after elixir? Of course, for those of us who didn’t have one of those late nights of drinking, perhaps a Bloody Mary would just be a nice way to start the day! My daughter makes amazing Bloody Mary’s – hers are like a lovely large salad all stuck into a glass of spiked tomato juice. A meal and a beverage all in one! I am not a huge fan of this particular drink, unless my daughter makes it, and that’s because it is so much fun seeing what she comes up with. This one is considered to be a good one to have at breakfast or brunch – thereby avoiding the traditional thoughts that drinking should be done after noon. This picture is one that I made last year that was low carb, since we were eating keto foods. It was good, just still not my favorite thing to drink.
Apple Gifting Day – I hadn’t heard of this one before last year, which is odd, since I’ve been doing this blog for 6 years now! The origin of this one isn’t known, but it is a nice way to start the year. This is something that was new information to me, but apparently up until the 17th century “apple” was a generic term for fruit other than berries. It is the symbol for many things like love, knowledge, bounty, good health, beauty and rebirth. One possible meaning for giving an apple is to wish the person who receives it good health and a fruitful year. Since there are over 7,000 types of apples, this could b a gift given often without even repeating itself, though I admit I’ve never seen anywhere NEAR that many types of apples in my whole life.
National Black-Eyed Peas Day – Black-Eyed Peas are a traditional food that you will find people throughout the South eating today, along with ham, cornbread and greens. This tradition has spread to other parts of the country, but for those of us born and raised somewhere BESIDES the south, you may wonder, as I did, why this is such an important food for this holiday. Let’s find out, shall we? Eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been thought to be good luck for at least 1,500 years. There is a portion of the Talmud written around 500 A.D. that it was a Jewish custom to eat black-eyed peas to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is possible that this tradition came to America with Sephardic Jews, who first came to the shores of Georgia in the 1730s. If you look at local folklore, the tradition spread after the Civil War. The Northern Army thought that black-eyed peas were only suitable for animals, so they didn’t bother to gather the crops for their own use, or to destroy them. The symbolism behind black-eyed peas has a variety of explanations. One is that eating these simple beans shows humility and a lack of vanity. The humble nature of this legume is spoken of in an old expression, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat for the rest of the year.” Another explanation is that dried beans sort of resemble coins. (Really? Huh.) and another is that because dried beans expand when they are cooked, they symbolize expanding wealth. Whatever the actual explanation, it is clear that many people associate black eyed peas with good luck and monetary gain . . . and that’s where the greens come in. Greens are the color of currency, so any green will do, but in the south adding collards, turnip greens, or mustard greens to a meal represents money in the New Year. Golden cornbread is added to the meal as well, and a well-known phrase (must be a regional phrase) is “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.” Pork is a staple meat of just about every Southern Meal, so it’s usually cooked with the peas. The pork is there for flavor, but the symbolism in the pork is that pigs root forward when they are foraging, which represents positive motion. There is no single “right” way to prepare your black-eyed peas on January 1st, but one fun way to do it is to prepare a dish called “Hoppin John”. Hoppin John is a mixture of black-eyed peas, rice, and bacon or ham hock. Some folks toss a dime into the pot and believe that whoever gets the dime in their serving gets extra good luck for the upcoming year.
I am really sorry this was so late today. I got caught up menu planning, watching movies with Hubby and relaxing. The whole post just slipped my mind! Yikes! Well, I need to get this posted so I can get started on tomorrow’s! God bless you and I’ll see you then!
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Celebration list sources: