New Year’s Eve: Out With The Old

Irish CoffeeFollowing on Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas, New Year’s Eve can feel like yet another December holiday with overly-high expectations.  But traditionally speaking, New Year’s Eve is simply a time to gather together, either with family and friends, or with the larger community around you, for the purpose of saying farewell [and sometimes good riddance] to the year just ending, and to set the stage so that the coming new year will be a good one.

How To Let the Old Year Out:

  • Some cultures dictate that at midnight on New Year’s Eve, all the doors of a house must be flung open to let the old year escape unimpeded, so that the new year can enter.
  • Other traditions call for stocking your pantry cupboards and paying all outstanding bills and settling old accounts, to wrap up the year in good stead, ready for what the new year brings.
  • In December, the Japanese scrub the house clean, and throw Bonenkai or “forget-the-year” parties, to “bid farewell” to the problems and concerns of the past year, and prepare for a new beginning.
  • The Dutch burn bonfires of Christmas trees on the street and launch fireworks. The fires are meant to purge the old and welcome the new.
  • Saving the best for last, there is the German tradition of Feuerzangenbowle (repeat 3 times fast after drinking one cup of it), literally translated as “flaming fire tong punch.”  Which is exactly what it is. The main ingredients are Rotwein, Rum, Orangen, Zitronen, Zimt und Gewürznelken (red wine, rum, oranges, lemons, cinnamon and cloves). See the following recipe for details. And hide everyone’s keys before imibing in this firewater. It sneaks up on you in a warmingly good way!

And, speaking of the New Year, we’ll be closing early this Monday (New Year’s Eve), at 4 pm. New Year’s Day we’re closed (to recuperate from the effects of the Feuerzangenbowle). See you bright and early Wednesday, January 2, at 10 am!

P.S. That picture at the right? It’s two mugs of Irish Coffee – here’s the recipe.