NEW Year dawn is celebrated in many traditional ways. It is also known as Saint Sylvester Vigil Night. It was traditional for the father to bless the members of his family and for the children to thank their parents for all their love and care.
In central Europe, the rite of scaring away demons with loud noises was retained, the custom of fireworks and artillery salutes in welcoming the New Year.
In Austria, the eve was sometimes called “incense night” for the father went through the houses purifying them with incense and holy water.
The night was also a favourite occasion for attempts to peer into the New Year. The tea-leave was once popular, as was pouring spoonfuls of molten Lead into water and interpreting the future from the shape is took.
Young maidens prayed to saint Sylvester in traditional rhymes, asking him for a good husband; and hoping through his intercession to catch a glimpse of the ‘Right Man’ in their dreams or in the mirror.
There were also Vigil services of various kinds, for gifts of the year and seeking blessings for the New Year. The church grants indulgence to a public singing of the Latin famous hymn of thanksgiving – the Te Deum Thee, God, we praise, on the last day of the year December 31, and on the other hand, a partial indulgence is granted to those who recite the ‘Te Deum’ in thanksgiving.
In Spain and other Spanish speaking areas, it was considered good luck to eat twelve grapes at the twelve strokes of midnight. It was also considered a good time to feed the body.
In Austria, apricot-jam doughnuts are traditionally eaten when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve; and in Poland, a strong rum mixture was imbibed.
In Northern Europe, youths would go out to the woods and bring home decorated tree branches, phallic symbols of many fertility rites with which they would dance around.
Similarly in ancient Benin Kingdom, youths would go out into the woods to cut Palm fronds to decorate street, shrines and sacred places to announce the festive season.
In the Vigil night, at dawn, the children and youths would rush out, each taking a stick of firewood as a torch light in hand chanting ubi rrie-the demon must be cast out. The chorus of driving away demons, evils and shrewdness in the land continues the refrain-Ubi rrie, we re rrie; as the firewood torch lights shone to end the watch that ends the night before the opening day.
When the children reach the outskirts, they throw away the stick torches of fire; thus cast out the demons. Having cast away ubi and all the demons, the children enter into the woods to collect the leaves of blessings and bounce out of the woods for joy, singing and clapping with the Ewere stalk, saying “Ewere dee, Kie ne Ewere.” that is Ewere blessing is coming, open for the Ewere.
The children dance from house to house, distributing the leaves as billet to every person, proclaiming the New Year — Isele o gbee, with praises.
A slash of the Ewere leave can be pasted on the forehead , symbolizing joy, favour, good luck, fortune and blessings, expressing the good wishes from the characteristic nature of the Ewere leaves which it possesses as sacred plant.
Ewere is a lily of the ivy specie. It is an evergreen plant that has a stem of straight stalk and a wide Leaf resembling the true Ivy plant-Hedera Helix. This straight stalk may be placed on the Lintel for the door way; good luck and blessings for the New Year.
Bull roarer gives loud noise resembling the rhombos of the Greek Mysteries to scare away demons during the vigil night welcoming the New Year.
Bull roarer signifies procreation and when the instrument is whirled around it produces loud whooshing sound, giving fearful, terrifying vibrating loud roaring bull sound, said to represent the voice of the spirit.
New Year Bull roarer may take place for safety, in order to ward off calamity in the community. The performance of the prescribed rites may restore the life crisis that helps human beings to understand fundamental human existence.
The manifestation discloses divine religious peculiarity to humanity. It is within this awesome experience that humanity validates the presence of divinity and humbly pays divinity homage; because the cosmos is beheld as sacred, the religious rites explain why some people think that human society can see everything as divinely place and therefore deserved honour.
New Year falls within time zone. The hours of the day and night fall at approximately within the same time zones on the clock around the world.
Most time zones are one hour apart, few are half an hour apart. In small countries, the same time is kept through out the country, but in large countries, there are several time zones.
The Maya constructed their calendar using the stars and the planets and divided time according to series of circles of planet.
Time was measured in days by observing the passage of the sun, the phases of the moon. Clocks and watches were invented with the passage of time. Anytime one crosses from one zone to another the clock or the wrist watch hour hand has to be advanced, every time one enters a new time zone.
New Year dawn is celebrated in traditional ways, in the custom of fireworks, prayers, dances, artillery salutes, Bull roarer, billets; leaves of blessings drinks and food to usher in the New Year in many cultures.
Happy New Year!

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