Happy New Year’s Eve, Y’all. Remember me? I’m Patricia Charles, medical librarian by day and author by night. Are you planning anything special for New Year’s Eve? Do you believe what you are doing at midnight is what you will be doing the entire year? For instance, if you are kissing your lover, you will kiss him all year long. If you are sick, you will be sick for the year. Or are you in bed before the bells ring? (I didn’t ask doing what.)
Before I go into New Year’s Eve, I wanted to expand upon researching medical topics. The National Library of Medicine is a wonderful resource. For you historians, it has a “History of Medicine” section. First, I have a friend researching syphilis in the 18th century, so I began searching for pictures. I couldn’t find a way to sort by date, but I did find a couple of drawings/woodcuttings. On the right of the picture is a sidebar that tells where the picture was originally used. I hope this link will work: https://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/luna/servlet/detail/NLMNLM~1~1~101394131~150849:-Moll-dying-of-syphilis–Wm–Hogart?sort=title%2Csubject_mesh_term%2Ccreator_pernson%2Ccreator_organization&qvq=q:%3Dsyphilis%2B;sort:title%2Csubject_mesh_term%2Ccreator_person%2Ccreator_organization&mi=10&trs=75
Cool, huh? I also checked out The History of Medicine Tab at the top of the Home page, and then I went to the Find, Read, Learn tab. About three paragraphs down are topics that are very interesting. As a fan of the Harry Potter books, I chose Harry Potter and Renaissance, science, magic and medicine. Here you will find Lesson Plans, so if you are a teacher, this is a fabulous start. I selected Higher Education. Two of the sections in the Harry Potter classes are “How Magic Became Science” and “Magic, Science and Ethics.” Fun reading and useful for a writer, especially beginning to learn about this time in history.
Also, at the National Library of Medicine is PubMed Central. This is a version of PubMed, but all the articles stored here are full-text. However, if you find an article you want to read and it costs an extraordinary price, visit your local library and ask if they can get a copy from a university medical school. In fact, your local library should know you well when you are doing your research. A couple of years ago while researching a book set in Brazil in 1869, my small town librarian ordered a rare book for me from a university in North Carolina. I couldn’t leave the library with it, but I could copy the whole thing. Most librarians are anxious to help you find what you are looking for. An added benefit is that when your book is released, you could give them a copy with an inscription about how helpful they were to you with the research.
Now, I promised I would research New Year’s Eve, Just as when I am searching for a medical diagnosis, treatment, etc., I have to find the correct word or phrase. It is the same in searching for New Year’s Eve. I asked Google and Bing for “history of New Year’s Eve” and I got the same information over and over again. (Be very careful about your sources. It is amazing the untruths lingering on the internet. I found a website that contained several interesting New Year’s Eve facts, until I read at the bottom “Submit Corrections.” Hmm.) When I searched for “strange historical facts about New Year’s Eve”, I found exactly what I wanted. Here are some that I considered the best:
- Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was introduced to the Japanese by German POW’s in WWI. Now it is a New Year’s tradition.
- In some Asian cultures, you are one when you are born and everyone turns another year older on the New Year. So if were born on December 30, 2015, you would turn two on January 1, 2016. I don’t think that’s fair at all.
- Brasstown, North Carolina, doesn’t lower a giant ball on New Year’s Eve; they lower a possum. New Orleans has a giant Fleur de Lis and Mobile, Alabama, uses a huge image of a MoonPie. Ever had one? They are wonderful, two cookies usually dipped in chocolate surrounding a glob of marshmallow. Mobile even throws MoonPies at Mardi Gras.
- The Antarctic has a music festival every New Year’s Eve called “Icestock.”
- Before 1753, Britain and all her “possessions” celebrated New Year on March 25 (Annunciation Day). In 1752, to begin the next year with other countries, Britain skipped the days from January 1 to March 24, losing three months of time.
- In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.
- Down South, we eat black-eyed peas, cabbage or greens and pork. The cabbage is for green money in your pocket, the peas for prosperity and the pork for good health. At least that’s what my Momma told me. Of course, I didn’t like cabbage or peas, so we always had a battle over what I would eat on New Year’s Day.
- Don’t eat lobster because they walk backwards and chickens scratch in reverse, which is considered bad luck.
- And my favorite: Scotland’s tradition of Hogmanay and particularly the “First Footer,” where the first person crossing the threshold of a home should be a dark-haired male for good luck. Light haired footers are not welcome because of blond hair Viking invasion. A lump of coal for the host’s fire with shortbread or a black bun and whiskey are appropriate gifts to toast in the New Year. It is disrespectful for a first footer to enter the home without any gifts and unlucky too. (Are you thinking this might make a good short story for next Christmas? Me too!)
May your New Year be filled with love, happiness, health and dreams fulfilled. See you next year!