HIBBING — It’s New Year’s Eve, a time to reflect on the good, the bad and the lessons that 2019 brought. References about hindsight being 2020 are almost too easy to make, given the tendency to mercilessly assess the previous year and all that went wrong, yet there’s a noble spirit of optimism driving New Year’s resolutions.
However, Iron Rangers who have more miles on the odometer tend to reject outright the notion of resolutions. They likely know from experience that self-improvement ideations dictated by dates rather than heart often fail to launch. So rather than suggest resolution ideas, here are 10 ways you might try to ring in 2020:
1. Try an old tradition. In Ireland, some families bang bread against the walls before midnight to rid the home of evil spirits and bad luck. In Spain, there’s a tradition of speed-eating a dozen grapes — one with each chime of the clock. In Italy, people out on a late-night stroll best keep an eye out for flying furniture and appliances, as some throw these items out the window to symbolize “letting go of the past.” In Greece, they bake a coin into a sweet bread known as vasilopita — whoever gets the slice with the money is bestowed with good luck for the year ahead. In Russia, the Christmas tree becomes a glammed out New Year’s tree, and in Germany, some plunge themselves into icy waters. And if you’re in Ecuador, don’t mind the smoke: some burn paper-filled scarecrows and photographs in hopes of good fortune. Finally, though not recommended, it’s said that at the Takanakuy Festival in Peru, fist fights are used to settle old scores and enter the new year with a clean slate.
2. Enjoy a New Year’s food. Many cultures around the globe enjoy various culinary traditions at midnight. In the U.S. South, a dish to invite good luck is called Hoppin’ John, a spread that consists of black-eyed peas or pork-flavored field peas (symbolizing coins) and rice. Typically the dish is served up with cooked greens or collards (representing money) and cornbread (gold). In Chili, lentils are eaten. In Estonia, there’s a tradition of eating seven times a day at New Years to attract abundance. The Swiss also call in abundance, but do so by dropping perfectly good ice-cream on the floor. Plus, in the Philippines, it’s believed anything round in shape ushers in prosperity, so bust out the oranges — or better yet, pizza and doughnuts.
3. Whet your whistle with wassail. Instead of clinking champagne flutes at the strike of 12 o’clock, try whipping up a piping pot of wassail, a hot apple cider with notes of orange and cinnamon. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase “waes hael,” which translates to “good health,” wassail was once made with mulled ale, curled cream, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, sugar and served from pewter and silver bowls. Today, however, a typical recipe includes two quarts of apple cider, a cup and a half of orange juice, about a cup of pineapple juice, half a teaspoon of lemon juice, one tablespoon of brown sugar, two to three cinnamon sticks and a dash of cinnamon and ground cloves. Boil altogether in a saucepan then reduce to a simmer for about a half hour and serve hot.
4. Give a gift. There’s a Roman tradition of giving away nuts and coins. The Scottish have been known to give friends and family shortbread or silverware, while a Persian ritual involves giving away eggs as a way to invite fertility. In England, gloves and oranges with cloves were once common gifts. In Denmark, unused dishes from the previous years are chucked at the front doors of friends and neighbors. And while big piles are considered the envy of the neighborhood there, it’s not a gift most would welcome here.
5. Spend New Year’s Eve writing thank you notes to those who made a positive impact on you. You might get writer’s cramp, but it’s better than waking up with a champagne hangover.
6. Decide to leave resentments behind. There is a saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Resolve to make life more peaceful in 2020 by letting old angers die on the vine and choosing peace instead.
7. Make a financial plan. Identifying bad spending habits may not be the most fun activity, but doing so while simultaneously setting goals can make it time well spent. Have dreams of opening a business or going on a special vacation? Put yourself one step closer by examining where you could save for spend less. Also, consider setting yourself up for success in retirement by looking into investment options. Not sure where to start? Consider calling a financial planner to help.
8. Learn something new. That class you’ve been wanting to sign up for, or that song you want to learn to play guitar? Why wait? The cold, dark days of winter are the perfect time to incubate a new, stimulating hobby. Spend some time researching your first action steps today and unleash them this week.
9. Celebrate your own kind of cleansing. In Japan, Buddhists ring their bells 108 times to dispel evil passions and cleanse sins. Other cultures spend the late hours of New Year’s Eve in prayer or meditation. Some burn bayberry candles or perform gratitude rituals. Decide what you’d like to focus on in 2020 create your own celebration around that theme.
10. Sleep. Run down the clock to 2019 by skipping the parties or going home early and give yourself the best gift: a good night’s rest.