January 5, 2015
Happy New Year!
“I shall think of the start to this new year as a great ship embarking on its’ maiden voyage,” wrote a then eighteen-year-old Mary Thorsen on the eve of New Year’s Day, 1891. That year would prove to be a very significant one in her young life, as she would join eleven other women (one being her grandmother, Emma) in starting The Society for The Danish Old People’s Home in Chicago. Sitting at the parlor desk that evening she must have sensed it with great anticipation as she wrote about the new adventures she hoped awaited her.
The origins of making New Year’s resolutions began thousands of years ago with the Babylonians. They would make vows to the gods with the hopes of attaining prosperity, health and good fortune in the coming year. Nearly two thousand years after Babylonian time, Julius Caesar established January 1 as the start of a new year. Named for Janus, the Roman God of beginnings.
Father Christmas has come and gone, the town hall clock in Copenhagen has struck its midnight toll to signify the New Year, the last of the champagne toasts have been made and New Year’s resolutions have commenced. It is time to begin another year and see where it takes us!
I can’t help but think about what Mary wrote and how she celebrated the New Year in 1891 (and in subsequent years). Did she have a New Year’s resolution and, if so, what was it?
Although I’ve already learned so much about these ladies by what I’ve found in the hope chest, there is so much more to uncover about their lives and the impact they’ve made on Danish-American culture. I anticipate learning more about the significant relationships forged between The Danish Home of Chicago and the many other wonderful Danish organizations over the years.
As I reflect on these relationships I can’t help thinking about the traditional New Year’s song Auld Lang Syne: (translation: auld = old; lang syne = the distant past)
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
It’s meaning endures, I guess this is why it is still such a popular song to sing at this time of year:
Whatever changes life may bring old friends will never be forgotten
Here’s to a wonderfully prosperous and healthy 2015 to you and yours, and to good friends, new and old. Cheers to that!