Catholic Activity: New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
Elsa Chaney provides suggestions on how to sanctify New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve is celebrated in almost every country, for people universally recognize it as an appropriate time for relatives and old acquaintances to meet and participate in the festivities of dancing, singing and feasting.
Nowadays, most Americans are inclined to spend this eve away from home. Would it not be possible to "baptize" the New Year's Eve observance by restoring corporate celebration — where families could gather together, and both old and young find entertainment adapted to their age and interests?
Before the party breaks into Auld Lang Syne, everyone could join in an Hour of Watching and prayer, peacefully and hopefully affirming their new resolutions to God. The booklet, New Life for New Year's Eve, contains an "Hour of Watching" for the last hour of the old year, a prayer-hour which can be used in the parish or adapted for the home celebration. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
New Year's Day
Very often countries that are not at all related observe feasts in the same manner. The traditions for New Year's Day illustrate vividly that although people differ in nationality, they are basically alike.
In Holland the children formally present for their parents a recitation of a self-composed poem proclaiming new resolutions for the coming year. In China the younger generations, and especially all the married children, dress up in their best attire and come to pay respects to their elders with gifts and good wishes. And in French Canada, before sitting down to the New Year's feast, the younger members of the family thank their parents for the love and kindness they have received during the past year, and wish them God's blessing.
Thus New Year's seems to be internationally parents' day. Some of the customs related above would be most appropriate for the American scene. For example, if parents would help children "solemnize" their New Year's resolutions, perhaps they would be taken more seriously. And New Year's, too, could be a day when the children perform special services for their parents — relieving mother in the kitchen, or preparing a favorite dish for the father of the family.
Activity Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955