Happy New Year!!!

The whole Christmas period is all about lights and celebrations which are linked to the winter solstice and date back to ancient Rome traditions and even before. Both the Romans and the Egyptians worshipped Mithras (originally a Persian deity who was said to be either the son of the sun or the companion of the sun) , a very popular deity indeed, whose birth was celebrated by the Romans on the 25th of December, and by the ancient Egyptians on January 6th. Since then, this phase of the year represents the renaissance of the sun and is greeted with various rites, which highlight the new beginning.

January, in fact, whose name comes from the god Janus, is portrayed with two faces: that of a young man and that of an old man with a beard, so that he can look back and forth at the end of the past year and at the beginning of the next. The Egyptians represented Mithras, the new-born sun, by the image of an infant, which they used to bring forth and exhibit to his worshippers on his birthday and kindle lights in token of festivity, so we may understand where the tradition of lighting our towns and houses for Christmas time comes from, but what about the New Year’s fireworks?

Well, New Year’s fireworks had to ward off the forces of evil and the evil spirits that are unleashed, in a moment of transition from the old to the new year, as evil spirits don’t seem to enjoy loud noises. Even the cork of the sparkling wine shot to celebrate midnight is excellent for warding off the evil eyes. The throwing of the shards (on the streets from the windows), which used to be very common in Italy years ago, particularly in Naples, at the midnight of the end of the year,Β  represents the physical and moral evils that have been accumulated over the year everybody wishes to chase away.
Hence, the noise, the crowd, the fire, the shouts symbolize the new that comes from chaos, the season that changes, the earth that sprouts. For centuries, the men of every civilization have been celebrating the rites of passage, the changing of the seasons, the end of a year and the beginning of a new time, with fire and noise. Bonfires and lit lamps, on the other hand, had the function of illuminating the path of the year that entered.
Therefore, I wish you all that your own path this year may be sparkling, but serene and positive at the same time.


28 thoughts on “Happy New Year!!!

    • Hi, Flo. I just needed to look for a little bit of sparkle, considering oncoming prospects . πŸ˜’But, let’s cheer up and let’s toast to future. 🍸🍸🍸

    • Leap years are usually considered bad omen, at least here: ” anno bisesto, anno funesto”, but I’ll try to be inspired by your positive attitude.
      Have a great year, Chris. πŸ™‹πŸΈπŸΈπŸΈ

      • The intercalated day is traditionally the day women can confidently propose marriage instead of it being a male perogative, but these days it’s rightly regarded as sexist to believe that females are allowed this privilege only once every 1,461 days! I didn’t however know about it being unlucky in Italy—I wonder why that should be so—but I hope that won’t apply to you!

      • Uhmm, I might write a post about it. πŸ€” However, if I consider my present situation, I am afraid it will apply to me. πŸ˜ŸπŸ˜‚

  1. Happy new year dear Stefy, my adorable teacher, Thank you for your nice cultural and historical information, brilliant. yes! Mithra, the Zoroastrian Divinity (yazata) of Covenant, Light, and Oath from a great ancient Persian which there’s hardly any sign of it.
    Anyway, I wish you and your beloved ones a healthy and successful year and for all the human on this earth more peace & freedom πŸ™πŸ’–πŸ˜˜πŸ’–πŸ™

  2. Hi Stefy: Each time I read your insightful posts that amuse as well as educate, I think of how fortunate your students are to have such a gifted teacher. Like Borges’ infinite Library of Babel, the internet houses millions of blogs; unfortunately, the vast majority obsess over superficial, trifling matters (whoever thought kids would want to grow up to be “influencers” with simply means “merchandisers.”) In that context, posts like yours are so refreshing to read — one learns and is left pondering issues that you raise. And the is the hallmark of a great teacher: one that not only teaches, but encourages discussion and exploration. I also want to thank you for your unwavering support of Bookshelf over so many years. I believe you were among the earliest of subscribers to my blog. I wish you a year filled with good health, happiness, and new discoveries. Cheers. Alex

    • Well, Alexander, you’ve been very supportive too these years. I think ours has become an honest , interesting “blog-friendship” πŸ˜‰
      Wish you a great year with many many posts to come.

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