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Residents share their favorite New Year’s traditions

Every January 1, we ring in a new year, usually with a tradition or two. This year, a group of Parsons Presbyterian Manor residents shared how they like to celebrate the turning of the calendar.

Many have traditionally stayed up quite late, which is a common practice worldwide. Brenda Charles, Roberta Sharp, and Robert Keener all have memories of burning the midnight oil on New Year’s Eve.

Roberta enjoyed watching the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square, a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s. It was the brainchild of Adolph Ochs, then the owner of the New York Times. The newspaper moved to a different Manhattan neighborhood, but the ball drop continued. Originally five feet in diameter, today's Ball is 12 feet across, weighing 11,875 pounds.

Of course, the best-laid plans occasionally go awry — Roberta jokes that sometimes her eyes drop before the ball.

Robert and Betty Denson enjoyed greeting the new year with fireworks, a tradition that extends back to seventh century China, where the colorful pyrotechnic displays are said to bring prosperity and good luck.

Of course, all holidays have their own foodways. One of the most well-known is eating black-eyed peas on new year’s, which both Betty and Robert count among their traditions. It’s a relatively new tradition that began during the Civil War. Eating the dish after midnight or any time on Jan. 1 is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity over the next year.

For David Gwartney, the holiday is a time to indulge his sweet tooth. His favorite tradition was gathering with his family and making and eating pastries, fudge and candies. Bernie Kuffler’s food memories are more savory than sweet: her family enjoyed gathering around a platter of fried chicken.

A recurring theme here is gathering with family and having a good time, which has always been Jean Quilty’s favorite new year’s activity.

Historians believe the tradition of making new year’s resolutions dates back to antiquity. Betty Denson’s resolution this year is one we could all adopt: a hope for a better world.

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