It’s that time again – another new year. Considered one of the
most celebrated holidays worldwide, New Year’s Day history is full of surprises.
For instance, it wasn’t always celebrated the first of January. In fact, the
earliest recorded celebration in the history of New Year’s dates back some
4,000 years to ancient Babylon with the new moon in late March. Lasting a full
eleven days, the Mesopotamians honored the rebirth of the natural world while
also offering promises to the Supreme for a good year ahead.
New Year’s Traditions
Since that time lots of things have changed, including its
celebratory date – December 31 (New Year’s Eve) to January 1 (New Year’s Day). A
number of cultures welcome the new year with various traditions, many of which
can be easily incorporated in the garden. Bet you never thought of that one!
Creating a New Year’s garden? That’s right.
With just a little imagination, gardeners can create their
own New Year’s tradition when planning
out their gardens each year. After all, the new year is a time for reflection,
looking back on past mistakes and finding ways to improve. The garden is a
great place to start.
We normally celebrate with good luck feasts (and lots of
drinking), New Year’s resolutions and kissing our significant others at the
stroke of midnight. Some people wish for wealth and love. Others just want to
ward off evil spirits. Adding some of these old traditions in new gardens can
be a fun way to keep them going throughout the year, rather than just one day.
I mean, if the Mesopotamians could celebrate for eleven days, why can’t we keep
the celebration going as long as we want too?
New Year’s Garden Ideas
While it’s fine to stick with eating certain foods to bring
about luck, fortune and health, there’s a place in the garden for them as well.
Don’t just eat them – grow them! Things like cabbage,
peas are commonly eaten during New Year’s celebrations but can be grown in
the garden too. The tradition of eating twelve grapes (in Spain) for each month
of the year offers the chance to grow
your own grapes, or any round fruit for that matter. Why round? Circles are
believed to bring about wealth in many cultures. Some even bake cakes with coins
inside for this reason. You might even design circular beds in the landscape
What else can you do with the history of New Year’s in your
garden? Here are a few more ideas to get those creative juices stirring and get
a jump on your garden planning this new season (FYI; jumping is a tradition for
good luck and warding off evil):
- The kissing tradition, with English/German roots,
can be given a twist by adding romantic plants to the garden. Think roses,
- In places like Columbia it is popular to carry
empty suitcases around the block for a year filled with travel. Upcycle
some of your old suitcases into new garden additions, either overflowing with
plants or left empty and strategically placed as garden ornaments.
- Some people practice the act of breaking
peppermint pigs for luck. Why not grow
peppermint in the garden and have a little luck all year?
- Others open windows/doors to bring in good
energy while a few more dump water out the window to chase away bad spirits. Using
old doors and windows in the garden is yet another interesting way to give
this old tradition new life.
- Bonfires are common in many cultures. Carve out
a cozy spot for a fire
pit to enjoy your garden when the days are cool.
- Some regions wear certain undergarment colors to
reflect what they yearn for in the year ahead – red signifying love,
yellow/green for money, and white for peace and harmony. Of course, I don’t recommend
adding undergarments to your garden but you can instead replace this with
specific flowers or plants in these colors – red,
- Going back to the 1600s in Russia, New Year’s
trees are popular and traditionally decorated similar to Christmas trees. Find
a good specimen tree in the landscape, or replant
your Christmas tree and decorate it.
- Starting the New Year off with a bang is commonplace
in most areas. In the garden, however, it can be more subtle with the addition
chimes and other soothing sounds.
The history of New Year’s
celebrations is quite diverse depending on where you are. So, too, are our imaginations.
These are just some quirky ideas to create your own celebratory New Year’s
garden to welcome the upcoming year with good vibes.