Celebrations are used to mark significant dates and occasions and New Year’s Eve is certainly no new face to the party!  In fact, the celebration of Winter Solstice and the beginning of the New Year is one of the oldest. For most Westerners, that day of celebration has evolved and moved from the original December 21 to the beginning of the Gregorian calendar, January 1st. Other cultures celebrate the New Year on various dates, however, with all the diversity, there are some underlying themes.  The New Year is seen as a time to set things straight, wash the slate, out with the old and in with the new, and reflection and renewal.

In recognition of the many symbols and rituals used to usher in the New Year, this arrangement has been carefully and thoughtfully created. A golden long and narrow rectangular container serves as the base of the design to represent the prosperity of the New Year. Evergreen foliage, often used to symbolize everlasting life and to ward off evil creates a lush bed. Candles are used by many cultures to not only symbolize life and the driving away of darkness, but the smoke from the flame represents for many the prayers and thoughts rising.

The garland of cranberries twined with red string or yarn, a symbol of peace to certain American Indians, has also been used for its healing properties. The beautiful deep red of the cranberries is further enhanced by the use of a fresh pomegranate, which has been opened to show its seeds.  The pomegranate is a powerful symbol of prosperity and for many cultures represents knowledge, learning and wisdom.  In Greek mythology, the seeds of the pomegranate are part of the mythology of the changing of the seasons from winter to spring.

A cluster of grapes is present to bring to mind the Spanish practice of placing twelve grapes in a glass of wine or champagne, which is then used to toast your guests at midnight.  As the wine is drunk the grapes are eaten one at a time with each representing a month of the New Year. A wish is made for each grape as it is eaten.  White roses, a symbol of purity and honesty lend their elegant beauty. Stems of wheat are added as a symbol of love and charity as well as guard against conceit. A flourish of ivy to the right invokes the Celtic symbolism of connections and friendships because of its propensity to interweave in growth.

Ever intertwining, the ivy is an example of the twists and turns our friendships take but also a testimony to the long-lasting connections and bonds we form with our friends that last over the years. Holly is used for its belief in bringing good luck, warding off evil and reincarnation and rebirth, and springs of rosemary for its connection with remembrance.

NewsYearsEve_Yelverton2Oversize glittery butterfly wings create drama and harken back the symbolism of rebirth and change associated with butterflies.  Tucked within the center of the design is an ancient and mysterious symbol found in architecture, art, and sculpture from the early days of civilization: A pine cone.  It has long been associated with the Third Eye, the Mind’s Eye or the Eye of Reason.  The pine cone is a fitting symbol for reviewing the past and looking into the future.

Finally, masks have been used over the centuries for many purposes. The mask was a symbol of the bad stuff, or at least the things you wanted to hide, that occurred over the last year. The “New Year’s kiss” came about when the mask came off. The kiss was a mark of purification and the removal of the bad.

So with the beginning of 2016, take this time to start some awesome personal rituals to celebrate life’s continuance and renewal. Celebrate by gathering with friends and family, share a moment to reflect, enjoy a meal, take off your masks, open your mind’s eye and welcome the New Year with a positive outlook. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What’s your favorite New Year’s tradition?