It’s almost time to bid goodbye to 2012 and usher in a New Year. In the distant past, it wasn’t simply a matter of sharing memories and recalling events. The ‘old year’ had to be conducted out properly so the New Year could bloom and thrive. This was often done by carrying a straw dummy through village streets, setting the effigy on fire, then burying it or drowning it in a stream. Spirits freed by the winter solstice were driven away or destroyed by the act, allowing the New Year to arrive unimpeded.
Villagers might also turn the night into a street masquerade by donning masks and costumes in order to conceal their identity from malevolent forces. Disguised, they embarked on a night of ‘town rattling’ in which they banged on drums, pummeled the sides of houses with sticks, and raised a hullabaloo. The racket sent the ghosts of the old year, already waning and sluggish, fleeing from the commotion. Imagine a combination of Madri Gras and trick-or-treat with a lot of tricking going on.
If you’ve been a follower of my blog for some time you might recall a post I did in June called “The Magic of Betwixt” about transitional moments. Think dawn, dusk, the stroke of midnight…ephemeral channels between elements of time. I’ve always been drawn to these periods, attracted by the enchanted yet elusive quality of their passage. Quick-silver moments, they slip by as fleeting as a breath, hovering on the cusp of Otherworld. New Year’s Eve is perhaps the most celebrated betwixt moment of all.
When the clock strikes midnight magic will happen, conjured from the chime of laughter, the hush of a loved one’s kiss, the bewitchment of reminiscing, the exhilaration of fresh possibility. There is no need to ‘rattle away’ the ghosts of the past. We learn from phantoms as well as memories. Time moves forward regardless, but I like to think it enjoys taking us along on the ride.
Finally, I love the song Auld Lang Syne, so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share it. I’m not much of a vid person, but this is a hauntingly beautiful rendition performed by the Scottish folk group, The Cast. Enjoy!