How will you spend your New Year's Eve? There are many customs around the world to mark how we say goodbye to the old year, and welcome the new. I’m delighted that this year I’ll be spending the evening with my two granddaughters aged 9 and 10 – just the right age for a little magic and well-wishing, which is often a part of old folk traditions for this season.
We’ll eat twelve grapes each, solemnly, one to sweeten each month of the coming year, as they do in Spain. Then I’ll suggest they write down their aspirations for the year ahead (resolutions sounds rather prim and old-fashioned!) But I also plan to do something more specifically ‘Circle of Nine’ with them. For this, I’ve purchased a supply of floating candles, and I’ll put a wide, shallow bowl of water ready in a lantern-lit summer house in the garden.
Nine Floating Candles
Each of the three of us will have three candles to float and light. We might make our mark on each, perhaps with a coloured pen.
One by one, we will put in our first candle, and light it. When all three are floating, we’ll remember the year that has past and the best of all the things that it brought us.
Then we’ll each float and light our second candle. Now we’ll make a special, secret wish for the year ahead.
Finally, we’ll add our third candles. This time, we will think of the people who we love, and wish them all well in the year to come.
Thus we’ll have nine candles floating together in a bowl, nine flames which may dance around each other and create their own patterns in the water.
You’re welcome to adopt this practice too! And of course, it may need some re-jigging to get the numbers right, if you’d like to create a Circle of Nine. It’s quite possible to do it on your own, finding three particular memories, wishes and people to honour.