02 Jan Gift For My Brother
The significance of New Year’s Eve Traditional Customs
Ever since we were children, my brother and I carried on an old New Year’s custom that we learned growing up in a small town, where people were very fond of traditions. Coming from ancient Roman times, the passing from December 31st to January 1st means the burial of the old year and the welcoming of the new one. All people cheer the passing from old to new, hoping that the new year will bring better times and happier events.
The burial of the old year and welcoming the new year
On New Year’s Day, in many places in the world one can see caroling groups wishing people to be in good health, to be prosperous, joyful and happy. Bearing small bags full of wheat, barley, oat grains and sometimes maize, the carolers step in the houses and throw the grains, which stand as symbols for abundant crops and wealth. The custom requires people receiving the wishes to grant the ones wishing them with food, but also money or sweets (usually home-baked cookies or cake).
From tradition to present
Growing up amongst all the well-preserved traditions of a small community, my brother and I used to be part of the caroling group. We went from house to house to wish people happiness and joy, but we mostly loved the presents we got, especially the sweets. Even when we grew up, we kept doing this, along with younger or older singers, since there was no age limit for taking part in such a joyful tradition.
The Special Gift to my Brother
Last year my brother decided to join the military, and he was sent to serve in a different part of the world, where customs (and rules) were very different. I knew he couldn’t come home for the holidays so we wouldn’t go wishing well to people on New Year’s Day… He felt terrible about it as well, but we both knew he had to respect the requirements for the sake of his chosen career.
I wanted so much to do something special for him! Something to ease the homesickness and the fact that he wouldn’t be able to take part in all his favorite holiday activities. Somehow, I wanted to send the tradition to him, if he couldn’t be here for the ritual. I gave it a lot of thought and while I was browsing the internet, I came across the Gifts to the Future’s website. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to do something entirely new and unique, so here’s what I did…
The content of my special Gift to the Future
I put together a small basket filled with the customary grains (wheat, barley, maize). I added some colorful bells as well (we used such items to let people know of our presence at their house doors). I wrote the lyrics of our well-wishing songs in various languages since I knew there were young men from different nations serving along with my brother. I also wrote the chords, as I even knew some of his fellow army guys played the guitar.
I used the service provided by Gifts to the Future to write and seal a beautiful letter with New Year’s wishes. I hired them to hold on to my gift for about half a year and send it to my brother so it would reach him precisely on December 31st. I made sure I said nothing about this to my brother or anyone in my family, as I wanted it to be an absolute surprise.
And so it was!
On December 31st, sometime during the afternoon, my brother called me to say how impressed and surprised he was when receiving my special gift. He had all he needed to carry on the New Year’s tradition! That surprise also enchanted his colleagues, and they even made a short video with all of them singing the well-wishing song in various languages.
But there’s more to it! I have arranged for my brother to receive such a gift every year, during the following five years. And I have Gifts to the Future to thank for that opportunity! I placed all the presents at the same time, but I instructed the company to send them one at a time, every year. The goal is for them to reach my brother on December 31st, anywhere he might be. That way, I avoid the pressure of sending the gifts myself as the year comes to its end. Nevertheless, I am sure that my presents will get to their destination in due time.
On January 1st, my brother also sent me a short video with him singing our traditional New Year’s well-wishing songs, and I loved every minute of it – I even cried a bit (I’m sure he did, too). So I decided to write my testimony about this experience and share my joy with you. Remember, it’s not about the size or the price of the gifts we send to our dear ones, but about the happiness they deliver and the unique moments they create.
In the end, it’s only about love!
Anna S. Truman