Tag Archives: New Years Eve

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Make Noisemakers to Welcome the New Year

Noise and revelry have survived from ancient times as an attempt to ring out the evil spirits of the old year and ease what many viewed as a vulnerable transition between years. Ancient Chinese people used loud firecrackers to drive away evil spirits, while medieval Germans hissed in the streets. Eighteenth-century Scots were draped in cowhides and chased by villagers who yelled, “Raise the noise louder” and beat them with sticks. I have my own childhood memories of staying up until midnight and clanging pots and pans on our porch, something I now do with my family.

You can easily make and use your own noisemakers, a project most kids enjoy, in addition to staying up late and marking the turn of the year. (If midnight is too late for little ones, celebrate the new year’s arrival in a region or country with an earlier time zone!)

Tube Kazoos

I have childhood memories of making this timeless noisemaker, along with a harmonica out of a wax-paper-covered comb, proving that things made with the simplest materials are often very enduring.

You’ll need:

  • Empty toilet paper or paper-towel rolls
  • Small squares of wax paper, approximately 4″ × 4″
  • Rubber band
  • Pencil
  • Crayons, markers, paint, fabric, tissue paper, glue, glitter, sequins, or other decorative items of your choice

Decorate the tube, as desired.

Cover one end with the wax paper square and secure with a rubber band.

Punch holes in the wax paper with a pencil.

Paper-Plate Maracas

We have fun making these at New Year’s and throughout the year. They’re great to use for  family music nights.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • Crayons, markers, paint, fabric, tissue or construction paper, ribbons, glue, glitter, sequins, foil, or other decorative items of your choice
  • 1/8 cup large dried beans
  • Stapler
  • Craft or popsicle stick
  • Tape

Decorate the underside of the paper plates, as desired.

Tape a craft stick to the inside rim of one plate’s undecorated side, for a handle.

If desired, glue ribbons or strips of paper or fabric to the plate’s underside, to create decorative ribbons.

Place the two plates together, decorated sides out.

Staple around the edges of the plates to secure them together, leaving an opening to drop the dried beans in.

Continue stapling to shut.

Photos: Piter Kruger; Kazoos,  Austin Kids; Maracas, Paper Craft PictureGiggleberry Creations. Both have lots of other cute ideas for paper plate crafts, paper plate fish, and more.

Looking for more New Years Noisemaker Crafts? See:

Artists Helping Kids   (various)

Make and Takes    (poppers)

Pots, pans, wooden spoons, and other kitchen items also make excellent noisemakers!

Happy New Year!

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

New Year’s Traditions Around the World and at Home

New Years Resolutions and Gratitude Lists

Honor Your Family with Fun Gratitude Crafts

Happy New Year: Celebrate with Traditions from Around the World and at Home

In Denmark, the New Year may be marked by breaking dishes on friends’ doorways. In Swaziland, tradition has it that people celebrate a long harvest season and bring their king back into the community from a brief seclusion.

Japanese families may celebrate the New Year for two weeks of “firsts” including “first writing”, in which family members inscribe favorite poems or sayings with fresh ink. In the Philippines, wearing polka dots and eating round fruit is said to attract prosperity and luck.

Traditional Hmong people, pictured above, thoroughly clean their houses and place the dirt outside near a loop of rope that has been tied to a tree. Children jump in an out of a loop to confuse the dirt spirits. The Dutch, pictured below, make doughnuts, called oliebols, which are only eaten at the New Year, have great firework shows, and often celebrate the day as many seaside dwellers do, by running into the sometimes freezing water — here, with the New Years Dive. at Scheveningen, in Amsterdam.

All over the world, people celebrate the New Year — often at the turning of the Julian calendar on January 1, but sometimes not — and do so with a wide variety of traditions, celebrations and rituals.

This is a wonderful list of  New Years celebrations from around the world. Many traditions have to do with driving away evil spirits and ringing in the new.

The New Year used to coincide with Spring (which makes sense in agrarian societies and perhaps even today), until Julius Caesar’s Julian calendar was created in 46 B.C. and declared the New Year to begin January 1. Many Europeans held firm to their Spring celebrations all the way until the 1560s, when France’s King Charles IX finally decreed that the year should officially begin on January 1. It still took Pope Gregory in Rome a full 18 years to follow suit, and some Europeans even longer. Those who continued to celebrate the New Year in April were considered fools — yes, April Fools.

More New Year Traditions

Do you make resolutions? Irresistible to those of us who like an occasional “fresh start”, New Years resolutions are said to go back 4,000 years, all the way to ancient Babylonia. Because the New Year occurred at the Vernal Equinox, many Babylonians resolved to make good on their word and return borrowed farm equipment, so their neighbors could begin the new year of farming.

How about Auld Lang Syne? If you sing Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve, you’re like much of the English-speaking world, who brings out this maudlin Scottish tune each new year at the stroke of midnight. “Auld Lang Syne” means “old long ago” or the “good old days”. The song as we know it was penned in the 1700s from an older traditional tune.

Then, there’s the New Years Baby. This symbolism is said to go back to ancient Greece, where parading a baby in a basket represented the rebirth of Dionysus, the God of Wine and symbol of fertility.

From ancient times, the New Year has been an occasion for contemplation and celebration. Happy and Healthy New Year to you and yours. Please let me know if you wear polka dots, break dishes, run into the ocean, or enjoy another or your own New Year tradition.

Images: PTD Phonsavan, Lybil BER, J.C. Leyendecker, Michael Lipman

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Make Noisemakers to Welcome the New Year

New Years Resolutions and Gratitude Lists

Toast the New Year with Inexpensive and Tasty Sparkling Wines

Toast the New Year with Inexpensive and Tasty Sparkling Wines

If you’re like me, you sometimes want to toast the new year or another festive occasion with Champagne, and you don’t want to break the bank to do it. Luckily, there are some very good and inexpensive sparkling wines that are widely available. Champagne itself is protected by terroir, so only those wines from the French region of Champagne can bear that name. But with so many good sparkling wines available, there’s often no reason to splurge on Champagne. I tasted three sparkling wines, side-by-side, just to be sure.

Veuve Ambal

First up was the Veuve Ambal, a Blanc de Blanc from the Burgundy region of France that is typically priced around $12-14 a bottle in the U.S. It had a very sharp nose and the taste to match, with a pleasant undertone of something almost ferment-y. It was very sparkly, fruity (I could especially taste grape), and bold. The aftertaste lingered nicely. Veuve Ambal commits, and I liked it a lot, though I wondered if it could get cloying if enjoyed throughout an event, versus as a celebratory toast.


Teixidor Brut is from Spain and sells for about $11-15 a bottle. I found its nose to be more subtle than that of the Veuve Ambal, and slightly perfume-y. It had a very light taste that resembled a Chablis and featured a hint of grapes. The Teixidor seemed a bit thin and watery. While not unpleasant, it didn’t have a lot of interest. It definitely improved with and agreed with a bit of cheese.


From New Mexico comes Gruet. I tried the Gruet Brut and was greeted with a crisp apple nose and a full, fruity, clean taste. It had wonderful bubbles and a great mouth feel. The taste got fuller and more complicated upon sipping, moving from apple to grape. Of the three sparkling wines, the Gruet most closely resembled classic Champagne — by a long shot. It’s a great, celebratory sparkling wine. Gruet Brut is typically priced about $14-16 a bottle.

Whether you toast the new year with one of these sparkling wines, another of the many other Champagnes or sparkling wines, or something else entirely, I hope the turning of the year portends health, happiness and wealth in whatever form you choose to measure.

Cheers! Happy 2011! Thank you for spending part of your last year with me.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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