New Year’s Eve – It’s Not Just About Making Noise!

In a few days it will be New Year’s Eve.  When I was a kid in ’50s and ’60s California the tradition on New Year’s Eve was to go outside and honk the horn on your car. All over the neighborhood, high and low, you’d hear the car horns blaring.  No guns, no fireworks.  Just car horns honking!  I distinctly remember trotting out in my bare feet and honking the horn on my mom’s 1960 Ford Thunderbird. 

As I got older and attended parties on the last day in December there were cute metal noisemakers, decorated with clowns or pretty girls. Twisting and twirling, they rang in the new year. 

I always thought this cacophony was simply celebrating a new year coming. Not so fast Spunky! There’s a lot more to the noise making than that.  

In cultures all over the world raucous noisemaking at midnight is said to scare away any malevolent spirits that might have evil designs on a household in the year to come. Traditional noisemakers run the gamut of pot lids, pans and wooden spoons, horns, bells and whistles. 

In olden Thailand, primitive guns were fired to frighten off demons. 

In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness. 

In the early American colonies, the sounds of musket shots rang through the air. 

Today, Italians let their church bells peal, while the Swiss beat drums.  

It’s not only noise that will keep the evil spirits at bay. In Japan many open the front door then the back door to let the evil spirits in then quickly usher them out.  Many will be happy to know that there are certain foods that can help the new year be perhaps better than the last. Eating any ring shaped treat (such as a donut) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune.  

Eating 12 green grapes at midnight will give you 12 months of happiness. Rice promises prosperity. Apples dipped in honey will bring good health, and dollops of whipped cream, dropped on the floor (and not cleaned up immediately) symbolize the richness of the year to come.

So on New Year’s Eve, donut in hand, make enough noise to keep bad spirits at bay, and don’t step in the whipped cream! Do these things and I’m sure you’ll enjoy a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

 Oh, and don’t forget the champagne!   

Happy New Year!

Carol Fenn, December 2016

~ Christmas Windows in Black and White ~


Whether your winters were spent in balmy California or snowy New York, if you grew up in the ” black and white days” as my daughters used to kiddingly call the 1950’s and 1960’s of my childhood, I’m sure you have fond memories of “Christmas Windows.” If you’re too young to remember this, well, I’ve got a few to show you. Enjoy!

Who doesn’t remember getting bundled up in your best winter coat and going downtown to see these magical displays. Most of them filled with Santa, reindeer and toys. Oh, the toys! Winter scenes with Santa, robots, space toys, dolls, and fluffy stuffed dogs and teddy bears.  

Children and adults would clamor to the windows. The children wishing. The adults wondering … “how am I going to afford that toy” LOL

Occasionally there was a window with never moving children waiting for Old St. Nick.  I wonder if he ever came down that chimney 🙂 

In studying Christmas windows I found that in the early mid century some car dealerships dressed up their windows with an Oldsmobile or a Chevy. It might be a bit difficult for Santa to get an automobile down the chimney but, hey. Magic!

Nowadays, it’s hard to find any Christmas windows here in Arizona. However, from what I understand, part of the fun of going to New York City this time of year, is to see these wondrous displays, which are still going strong there.

Here in Tucson, if you want to get in the mood for Christmas you should come in the Midtown Mall. We might not have Christmas windows, but there are wonderful Christmas vignettes around every corner and throughout the building. Merry Christmas!