In response to the question, “What’s the big deal with New Year’s Day, it’s just another day on the calendar, right?”
As I reflect on the New Year’s celebrations I have enjoyed and the traditional meals on New Year’s Day, I can say without hesitation that New Year’s is indeed a big deal.
New Year’s Eve represents for many the ceremonial placement of a big, bold period at the end of a long chapter in our book of life. Maybe it was a good chapter or maybe it was not, for most it was likely a blending of both. In any event, the chapter is complete and on New Year’s Day a new chapter starts.
We have many traditions to help bring in the New Year. Music always has a place in our important celebrations. The song “Auld Lang Syne” is a favorite, while the Scottish folk song pre-dates Robert Burns version, it is his rendition that most folks are familiar. The song is about old friends who have reunited and spend time remembering times past over a drink. At its core, the song suggests we should not forget our old friends.
In the Carolinas, we have many New Year’s Eve traditions. In Raleigh, North Carolina, a large acorn is dropped, and when not taking part in New Year’s Eve celebrations the acorn is on permanent display in Moore Square. The sculptor was created by David Benson to celebrate the city’s 1992 Bicentennial and Raleigh’s nickname: “The City of Oaks.”
In Charlotte, a crown is raised to symbolize the rising hopes for the city of the New Year.
Columbia puts on the Famously Hot New Year celebration that features an impressive firework display over the capital. The state tree -- the Palmetto -- rises to meet the moon.
At Clays Corner in Brasstown, the New Year’s Eve celebration has been getting national attention for years and is certainly one of the more unique events that I have attended -- the opossum drop. They have many things on the agenda including a music selection from a local choir, ceremonial musket firing, cross-dressing beauty queens, a military tribute and of course, the opossum drop, which is more of a slow descent of the marsupial in an acrylic case. It’s just one of those events you don’t soon forget.
Mount Olive, North Carolina is home to Mt. Olive Pickle Company Inc., and on New Year’s Eve, everyone gathers together for the lowering of a giant pickle.
It seems like everyone finds their way of celebrating the ringing in of the New Year and once Jan. 1 arrives, we then celebrate with traditional foods. While we have a few regional tweaks to the New Year’s Day meal, the primary ingredients are consistent. Greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread.
I recall a New Year’s segment we produced in Columbia, at Motor Supply restaurant, which has a focus on farm to table. The New Year’s Day feast included Hoppin’ John, perfectly seasoned collards, two pork presentations, cornbread and probably the best shrimp and grits I have eaten.
I am glad that I have had the opportunity to experience these New Year’s celebrations. While each one is different, they all are about remembering the good and the hope of a better tomorrow.
A correctly placed period that allows us to turn the page and start a whole new chapter. Happy New Year, everyone.
Carl White is the executive producer and host of the award winning syndicated TV show “Carl White’s Life In the Carolinas.” The weekly show is in its seventh year of syndication and can be seen in the Greenville, Spartanburg viewing market on WLOS ABC 5 a.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays at WMYA My 40. Visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com, email White at Carl@lifeinthecarolinas.com.