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Weekly Bulletin January 1, 2023
by Terrie Evans
On Saturday, December 31st we celebrate New Year’s Eve and the feast night of St. Sylvester, a priest who was born in Rome and became a spiritual director to Constantine. St. Sylvester was the Pope when Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official state religion of Italy. The legend states that St. Sylvester closes the door on one year and the pagan ceremonies and then opened the door to a New Year in the era of Christianity. St. Sylvester was considered a great Pope and is especially venerated in Pisa where his feast is known as Feste Nazionali Capodanno. To honor his day, a dinner consisting of steamed sausages and lentils will be served. It is a night of many festivities with many fireworks and the old tradition of wearing any piece of red clothing to bring you luck. The lentils symbolize money, sausages are said to bring abundance; as raisins, oranges, (symbols of riches, love, health and fortune) along with honey represent a sweet New Year to come.
Throughout Italy, it is also the custom to throw out unwanted things in the hope of forgetting all the bad things that happened during the last year and to bring good fortune in the new one. People will be cheering, clapping, stomping as church bells are ringing with old dishes and pottery hitting the ground. The groups of merrymakers are trying to make as much noise to chase away the evil spirits before they have a chance to intrude on the New Year. An ancient Roman New Year’s Day tradition was to gift family and friends branches of greenery for good luck. Another Italian tradition for New Year’s Eve is to kiss under the mistletoe. It is said that the mistletoe resembles love and protection, and it will drive away the evil spirits and keep your loved one safe. At midnight in all English-speaking countries, it is customary for all those partygoers to sing Auld Lang Syne as a way to welcome the New Year of 2023!
On Sunday, January 1st we welcome the New Year at our 9:00AM Mass. It is an annual International celebration and the first day of the Gregorian year. New Year’s Day is the world’s most widely observed public holiday in all countries who follow the Gregorian Calendar, except Israel. At different times and in other places in Mediaval Christian Europe, the New Year was celebrated on December 25th in honor of the Birth of Jesus and then on March 1st in the Old Roman style, and on March 25th in honor of the Feast of the Annunciation (the date of the Conception of Jesus) and the New Year was also celebrated on the movable Feast of Easter.
New Year’s Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus that is still observed in the Anglican, Lutheran and the Eastern Orthodox Churches who believe that if Jesus was born on December 25th, and according to Hebrew tradition, His circumcision would have taken place on the 8th day of His life January 1st. On this day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is honored in the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.
On Sunday, January 8th we will celebrate the Epiphany Day (Giorno dell ‘Epifania) which is the last day of the Christmas Season. We will also have the Blessing of the Chalk to take home for all of us to Bless our homes for the New Year. Please invite your family members and friends to welcome the New Year 2023.