While some people like to go out on the town for New Year’s Eve, home is a safe-haven place to be for others. Staying in can have its own sense of festivity.
A few traditional ingredients: donning party hats, going out on the front porch at midnight, watching the ball drop at Times Square on TV, eating some black-eyed peas in hoppin’ John or Texas caviar, and singing Auld Lang Syne.
Some people will shoot off fireworks to usher in a new year, and some of us remember clanking pots and pans together as kids. Bernie Koch has a different tradition that he will enact tonight at the crack of midnight:
“We like to ring in the New Year, literally, by ringing a large Swiss cowbell.”
Koch’s daughter Emily showed cattle in 4-H and was a member of the American Junior Simmental Association. Simmental is a Swiss breed of cattle.
“The highlight of that activity was when she won the association’s national show in 1999,” Bernie Koch said. “The award was a very large Swiss cow bell attached to a wide hand-tooled leather belt.
“One New Year’s Eve, while we were baby-sitting our nephew, Bryant Brunner, he managed to stay awake until midnight. We went on the front porch and rang the cowbell. It has a beautiful loud and clear ring.”
If you live in the Amarado neighborhood near 13th and Maize, strain your ears tonight to see if you can pick out the sound. Koch doesn’t keep it up for long.
“We live in a quiet neighborhood,” he said.
“Usually I go out on the front porch and there’s lots of fireworks. I ring it three or four times and get inside before anybody comes out to see what’s going on.”
Black-eyed peas and bubbly
Champagne is the beverage most linked to New Year’s Eve, and black-eyed peas, for reasons no one knows for sure, are eaten for good luck, especially in the South. You can find black-eyed peas in dried, canned and frozen form. One easy and tasty way to serve them is in an oil-and-vinegar dressing with chopped onions, salt and pepper.
If you aren’t drinking the bubbly tonight, consider sipping sparkling grape juice or, for a non-sugar beverage, Perrier or other sparkling water. Out of champagne flutes if you have them.
TV history lesson
Times Square ball drop
Despite the weight, the many lights on the ball have become dynamic and computer controlled. No longer is the ball a beacon; now it is a dazzling light show.
“Auld Lang Syne” lyrics
Traditionally, we usher out the old year and welcome in the new with the old Scots song “Auld Lang Syne.”
The title is an idiom (style of speaking peculiar to a group of people) meaning “long, long, ago.” In the Scottish dialect, the words mean “old long ago,” and are derived from an 18th-century poem by Robert Burns partially compiled from an older song.
“Old Long Syne,” printed in 1711 by James Watson, was set to the tune of a folk song that predates the 16th century. In song and poetry, they all point to days gone by and advise that we should remember friendships and loves from the past.
Scots traditionally sang the song during their New Year’s Eve celebration called Hogmanay, and the tradition soon spread to nearby countries.
As Scots, Welsh, Irish and English people emigrated around the world, they took the song and the tradition with them.
Children’s party hat
Children can make First Night party hats from metallic poster board, pompoms and pipe cleaners. It’s from Family Fun. You can see the directions online at http://familyfun.go.com.
Supplies you will need:
To make a cone-shaped hat, cut a semicircle with an 18-inch diameter from the poster board. Roll it into a cone, adjust its size to fit your head and secure it with double-sided foam tape.
To make a chin strap, use the thumbtack to poke a hole through each side of the hat near the bottom, thread one end of the elastic through each hole, and knot a few times to secure it.
To decorate your hat, coil pipe cleaners around a pencil or pen to make spirals. Attach the spirals by poking a hole through the hat with a thumbtack. Push one inch of the pipe cleaner through the hole to the inside of the hat and duct-tape it down. Attach pompoms with double-sided foam tape. Randomly place stickers.
Contributing: McClatchy News Service, Newsday