Ready for a New Year!


Happy New Year Everyone!

I’ve been revving up the house this morning. (Rev is a word I coined after my Pittsburgh years, although I’m pretty sure they said “red up” instead of “rev”. Maybe my Pittsburgh friends can verify this for me.) It reminds me of different word usage and customs I’ve encountered in my several moves around the country.

Now, ostensibly I’m cleaning because we’re expecting an out of town guest momentarily, but in reality I think it stems back on my childhood years. As I was growing up Mama would absolutely NOT let the New Year in without having scrubbed and cleaned thoroughly, the implication being that the state of your house over the New Year transition will be the state of your house all year.  This cleansing ceremonial also included the family clothing.

One year she failed to get the laundry done in the old year (it had to be done outside with boiling kettles in those early days of her marriage), so she did it on New Year’s Day. That turned out to be a year she would be sick much of the time so you can bet she never washed clothes on New Year’s Day ever again.

Over the years I’ve mostly been able to overcome these superstitions, but not quite. Besides, it feels good to have a clean-smelling house. I’ll bet everyone has a habit or two formed from folk customs passed down that seem to defy logic. I’ll hope you’ll share yours in the comments.

And, however you say it or prepare for it in your neck of the woods, here’s wishing you all a happy 2009 filled with hope for a prosperous and peaceful future all people of all worlds!

15 thoughts on “Ready for a New Year!

  1. I did part of my cleaning yesterday and a few things today. Tomorrow I have commitments and things that I need to do for my continued well-being, such as it is.

    I’ll get this place organized eventually. That I’ve begun is amazing in itself.

    Happy New Year!

    • Of course it all has to be done over and over again, Kay. That’s why I usually wait for the bigger stuff until company’s coming!

  2. It is “red up” in Pittsburgh, and it means clean and paint and polish. We seem to have many words and expressions I never heard used elsewhere, the stangest being “yinz.”

    • Oh yes Ruthe, I remember “yinz.” Now I know how to spell it too. I also remember some of my friends saying “my hair needs washed rather than “washing” or “to be washed.” And though it has nothing to do with the subject, you have a street there called Boulevard of the Allies. Hubby and I called it Allevard of the Bullies because, to a gal fresh out of the country, it felt as if I took my life in my hands every time I drove on it.

  3. Our house had to be clean as a whistle before Christmas Eve. Mother was pretty strict with keeping a clean house all the time but we did a bang up job for Christmas, Spring and Fall. We had to wash the walls and ceilings in the Spring and Fall and do all the drapes. I would love to boast of a house as clean as ours was growing up … but it takes a husband and wife with the same definition of “clean” to keep a house like that. If the 1st day of the new year is an indication of the rest of the year I’m doomed. I’ve been taking down decorations and making messes all day and am now going to bed without finishing.

    • Edna, you’re right! Husband and wife with the same cleaning standards. Thank goodness I’ve been able to let go of most of these old custom-imposed habits. And you know, I was thinking, your mother nor mine had to keep up with blogs and other ‘putering duties, did they? Mama had a cleaner house maybe, but somehow I think I’m having more fun in my winter years. A good enuf tradeoff for me!

  4. Yes, we “red up the house” in PIttsburgh. This is a colloquillism for “readying up the house” or “making the house ready.” The term is blamed on the German immigrants. I was told the “word” yinz also can be traced to the Germans and their word for our…unser.

    • Unser thanks ML for refreshing unser memory. I could do a whole post on colloquialism. I know your house in always “red up.” Thanks for your response.

  5. Did you kiss a dark-haired man on the threshold of your house on New Year’s Day? This brings good luck for the entire year, a superstition practiced by my family. My father had dark hair, although good luck seemed to evade us. How wonderful that you married a dark-haired man! In Africa, this custom changes to kissing a light-haired man on New Year’s Day. In many regions of Africa, finding such a man is problematic. I remember a story told to me by Walter, who lived with an African friend, Fofo, and his family in Burkina Faso for a month or so. Walter is very Germanic looking, fair skinned, blond and blue eyed. On New Year’s Day, the people in the village were dragging him into their huts and kissing him. I don’t know if the villagers’ luck improved, but everyone got a momentary thrill.

    • But I eat black eyed peas on New Year’s! You mean I have to kiss my hubby too? Interesting habit, I’d say, at least for the dark haired man. And that Walter story…sounds so like a Walter story! Thanks for sharing those, ML.

  6. Last year my son (then 13) announced that he’d cleaned out his inbox and cleared his desk organised all his computer games. I was a bit surprised to realised that he’d taken over my tradition of cleaning up and getting organised for the new year.

    For me it’s about fresh starts and clean slates.

    • Sylvia, I’ve read that fixing things and tidying up the mess is our biological destiny. I thought it referred to women, but perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it’s a condition of the human animal.

  7. Gee, we really didn’t have any new year traditions in my family. Besides maybe toasting it at midnight with champagne.
    But here’s wishing you and hubby a very happy, healthy and great year filled with much love and laughter.

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