New Year’s Traditions
In stark contrast to the Christmas holiday, traditions for New Year’s Day are few indeed in our household. Oh, She Who Cooks On Occasion always whips up a tasty dinner featuring pork, sauerkraut and spoonbread for the occasion. But in recent years our New Year’s revelry consists of trying to stay awake just long enough to watch the big ball touch bottom in Times Square.
At home down in Logan County, the only New Year’s traditions I can recall were listening with Dad to the old Crosley radio as Big Ben tolled the stroke of midnight from London, and then awaiting 12 o’clock with resounding dynamite blasts from the hilltops.
Before the days of mechanization in the mines, when coal was extracted mainly by hand labor, sticks of dynamite and blasting caps were easy to come by since their use was routine. On New Year’s Eve miners would hie themselves to the hills laden with “dinnymite” of both liquid and stick variety.
After charging themselves and the dynamite sticks with refreshments and caps, respectively, the mines awaited the coming of the New Year.
They signaled its arrival with “dinnymite” the blasts began to reverberate, depending on whose watch was employed, and how accurate that timepiece happened to be, at about 10 minutes until midnight. These usually continued until well after the official beginning of the next year. Some of the more profligate residents of the camp would mark the occasion by firing shotguns into the air.
Our three churches at Mallory, Methodist, Baptist, and Church of God, on occasion had “watch night” services to herald the advent of the New Year.
That was it at home insofar as any excitement occurring attendant at the coming of January 1. No parties, no funny hats, no noise makers-just thankfulness that we had made it through another year, coupled with the hope that the next one surely would be better as the last of the final booms echoed off the hills.
And so, this December 31 as the television screens reflect frenzied antics of merry makers in Times Square and elsewhere, before the big ball begins its descent, some of us will cock an ear toward the hills and listen for the blasting sounds of “dinnymite” to signal the coming of another year.
How quickly now for some of these years seem to go by, as we welcome the coming of a new one with the same question we ask annually: where in the world did the old one go: where does the time go so quickly?
Happy New Year!