Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve, Unlucky Day, Champagne Day, more

December 31st, 2013, is New Year's Eve, Pine Cone Drop, First Night, No Interruptions Day, Oga no Namahage, Hogmanay, Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Unlucky Day, Leap Second Time Adjustment Day, Make Up Your Mind Day, World Healing Day, and National Champagne Day.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici,
New Year's Eve is a time for celebration, including the ball drop in New York's Times Square and the lesser-known Pine Cone Drop in Flagstaff, Arizona. Many communities offer First Night festivities with no alcohol. Have a wonderful night. Drive safely, sans alcohol, texting, and other dangerous activitiies while on the road. We miss you, Dick Clark!

The last business day of the year is No Interruptions Day. Tidy up those loose ends, then celebrate!

Oga City in Japan celebrates Oga no Namahage, when youths wearing masks and carrying wooden knives visit homes looking for crying children, lazy people, and other ne'er-do-wells. After receiving sake and mochi cakes, the youths depart, promising good luck to the family.

In Scotland, New Year's Eve is celebrated with fire and fun as Hogmanay. In Stonehaven, the celebration is especially intense, featuring the Stonehaven Fireball Festival.

Unlucky Day always coincides with New Year's Eve. But never fear - you can mount a counteroffensive against this ominous holiday by eating certain foods that bring luck for the coming year. Southerners in the United States enjoy black-eye peas; other Americans eat herring; Austrians enjoy suckling pig; Sicilians eat lasagna (but no other pasta); Japanese eat noodles; Brazilians eat lentils; Spaniards, Portugese, and Peruvians eat grapes; Germans have carp; and Norwegians eat rice pudding. If you're in Denmark, watch out for piles of broken dishes on your front porch, left by well-wishers. Oh, and don't eat lobster or winged birds, no matter where you live. Don't ask why - just obey if you're superstitious!

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day takes place on the last day of June and/or the last day of December, as needed. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service determines if clocks should be adjusted, accomodating changes in Earth's rotation, to keep the time difference between atomic clocks and the Earth's position within .9 seconds. No adjustment will take place today. The last adjustment was made on June 30th, 2012.

Make Up Your Mind Day is an opportunity to set goals for the future, firm up plans for New Year's Eve, or simply decide what to have for dinner. Your choice.

World Healing Day, presented by the Quartus Foundation, is a time for everyone to come together in a "simultaneous global mind link," to pray for world peace and love. The event takes place for one hour, beginning at noon Greenwich time.

In case anyone needs an extra reason to imbibe today or tonight, today is known as National Champagne Day. Cheers!

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