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Thoughtful Thursday: The New Year, Far and Wide

”It’s New Year’s Day Hurray! Hurray! The old year’s past and gone away. We’ll raise our glasses and make a toast, because this Now and this Present is what means the most.” – Sharon Gardner

As the end of the year looms ever closer, we are drawn to reflect on what has transpired these past 12 months. We have never experienced anything like this where a situation requires us to dramatically change our practices and behaviors. I meet my friends in parking lots, never exiting our cars; my book club and happy hours are virtual, my two year old grandson knows me only via Google Duo and my accessories wardroom now includes masks in a variety of colors and prints.

With each passing holiday we feel more deprived and inconvenienced, only aware of what we are missing: no sunrise services on Easter morning, summertime family reunions were postponed, Halloween trick or treating was quashed, the Thanksgiving feast was dramatically reduced to household members only and no midnight mass and caroling to celebrate Christmas….and now we are set to lose our New Year’s Eve festivities….or we could flip this loss into a gain with an extended and multi-cultural holiday celebration sending out 2020 and welcoming 2021 in a global fashion.

Traditionally, New Year’s Eve is celebrated December 31st with revelry and celebrations commencing at midnight and the heralding of the new year... but don’t forget that midnight here is not midnight everywhere!

For most of us on the east coast, 5:00 AM on 31st finds us still in bed, yet it is midnight to the South Pacific nation of Samoa as the first country to welcome in the New Year. Midnight comes next to New Zealand, Australia and parts of Russia followed by North & South Korea, China and the Philippines.

By noon, our time, Indonesia, Thailand and 10 more countries enter into the New Year. The midnight hour visits the Middle Eastern nations about 2:30 our time and you could celebrate like the Turks, where locals smash pomegranates on their doorways for New Year's. The belief is that your good fortune in the coming year is relative to the number of seeds that fly out of the fruit upon contact!

European nations begin their festivities at 4 PM and what better way to acknowledge than channeling Greek heritage and bake a sweet bread tucking a coin into the dough. The recipient of the coin will enjoy a year of good luck. Or party like you are in Spain, with 12 seconds remaining until the New Year, eat 12 green grapes so chance will be yours in the coming year.

Three hours later you reach the Atlantic Ocean and don’t make landfall until arriving in Brazil at 9 PM where you practice your belief in lucky number seven: eat seven pomegranate seeds to keep your purse full, and seven grapes to ensure abundance in all areas of life. Another South American custom to ring in the new year is from Colombia where they place three potatoes—one peeled, one unpeeled, and one half peeled—under their beds. At midnight, they pull out the first potato they touch. Peeled means they’ll have financial problems, unpeeled indicates abundance, and half peeled…well, somewhere in between.

Midnight finally comes to us on the east coast of North America where celebrations last for three hours, before moving to Alaska, Hawaii and the US territories in the Pacific Ocean. By 7 a.m. the last of the American Islands in the Pacific Ocean can finally proclaim 2021! Around the globe there are 39 different time zones, which cause this phenomenon to take place over a period of 26 hours, before everyone on Earth enters the New Year.

Plein Air artists find celebration in their surroundings; their talents see the mundane as magnificent, the commonplace as exceptional and the ordinary as original…the vision we need and want for the new year! As the calendar is with us this year and we can celebrate Thursday December 31st right through the weekend in any number of ways with lentils (Italy), black-eyed peas (US), donuts (Denmark) and wine and Fine Art (Chestertown, MD) as we bid adieu to 2020 and welcome 2021!

So this weekend, Saturday 10 - 5 & Sunday 11 – 4, celebrate 2021 with original art at our gallery in Chestertown or online at

Portions adapted from Captain Hank Bracker, "Seawater One...." and

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