Celebrating New Year: A historical saga

The New Year is here again and people are all set to welcome it with a lot of anticipation, joy and zest. But what many of us don’t know is that the New Year is one of the oldest festivals of the world, dating back to the pre historic era. January 1, as it is celebrated in the present day is relatively a new phenomenon. If we look into the history of New Year, we will find that a series of changes has affected it to get to its present global form. The urge of celebrating New Year as a vibrant festivity emerged at the dawn of civilization. This becomes one of the principal reasons for New Year traditions to vary from country to country. It is believed that the earliest New Year celebrations have been in Mesopotamia in 2000 BC. A lot of other dates are also associated with it in other ancient cultures.
New Year traditional stories
A lot of people agree to the popular belief that what we do on the first day of the New Year affects the entire year. Some other common ones are:
One popular belief is to kiss your beloved and your dear ones at the stroke of midnight conveying warmth, affection and care.
You should settle and clear all your unsettled amounts and unpaid debts as it is not good for a New Year to begin with. Make sure to deal with all money settlements before the old year closes.
It is auspicious to begin the New Year by wearing brand new clothes which ensures a steady flow of new clothes the entire year, adding jazz to your wardrobe.
You should greet the New Year by making loud noises. Not only would you enjoy doing that, but also it is believed that it scares away evil spirits thus ensuring you have a hassle free New Year.
Paying back loans or lending money to anyone on January 1 is not a good option as it indicates that you shall be paying all year long and money would be flowing out instead of coming in.
Babies born on January 1 are believed to be lucky and have prosperity on their side.
Avoid breaking things on the New Year day as it indicates that ‘wreck’ will be your companion for the rest of the year.
Being happy and cheerful on the first day of the year is also recommended as it ensures a cheerful year ahead.

Celebrating New Year in different parts of the world

In Russia, amongst the most popular New Year symbols is a New Year’s Tree called Novogodnaya Yolka that is topped with a bright star and decorated with various sweets. New Year presents are kept under the New Year Tree. The most important part of the New Year activities is the sumptuous dinner with light music and champagne. The most important meals consist of meat, green peas, pickles, mayonnaise, onion, carrots and potatoes.
Traditions and customs make a splendid part of New Year celebrations in Europe. ‘First footing’ is a very old tradition, practiced very seriously in Europe till date. When the clock strikes at midnight, a male stranger must be the first person to enter the house. It is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity for the family. The visitor must bring with him lump of coal, bread and some salt. In Europe, people follow a custom of making noise to welcome the New Year. This is done to scare off all the bad spirits.
In the United States, New Year’s Day begins with wishing the near and dear ones ‘Happy New Year’. People visit their loved ones and sometimes go out for a picnic with them. Watching the famous Tournament of Roses Parade further accelerates New Year celebrations. Theme of the parade varies every year. There is also a New Year custom to play the most famous games of football such as the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl.
In Japan, New Year Eves see people eat Toshikoshi-soba at night. They offer prayers at midnight. It is considered highly auspicious to listen to the chimes of a temple bell. According to the Japanese religion, sound of the 108 chimes drives away all the sins and gives birth to new life.
The people of Germany welcome New Year in a merry way.
It is considered very auspicious by the people to have carp (a type of fish) or herring and toast made with champagne or sekt. Cabbage and carrots are also eaten to bring in financial stability. Lentil soup with wieners is very popular.
In Indian homes, we start the traditional way by having something sweet: Chocolate Walnut Kheer, Anjeer Date Barfi, and Sohan Halwa. More Indian sweet recipes.

Launching TYC in Kathmandu

Another Monday at the office after an exciting and joyous Christmas weekend. And the fun does not end here, it will continue now till we enter into the New Year with a bang! The celebration was really a refreshing factor amidst my traveling and touring…after all we all need a little bit play along with our work to keep it going smoothly.
Weekend was spent in fun. Kriti, my younger daughter is selected for 400 metres All India School Nationals in athletics. She is training there with kids from all over India. I’m happy about her selection and prospects and that she has adjusted well to training and camp.
As for my routine goes, lots of meetings happening. This sure will pace up as we come closer to the year end when our channel FOODFOOD finally goes on air, which means there would be more and more shoots as well. Plus, the launch of the new TYC branches opening up at various places. The Yellow Chilli chain of restaurants has already crossed the figure of two dozens in pan Indian market, soon to be opening in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia too. One is opening in Kathmandu (Blue Bird Mall, Tripureshwar). I am going there for its launch tomorrow and this venture will strengthen the Indo Nepal ties as food speaks the universal language of love.
Check out http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com for the newly added feature like the tab section on the homepage. Now we have different sections separately assigned for various recipes along with the shopping section. It allows easier browsing and you can find your favourites even more quickly without going through the entire recipe list. It also gives you the option of the types of recipes and so this becomes pretty convenient and more user friendly.
Meanwhile, check out some light food using the winter bounty Spinach and Pumpkin Curry, Gajar Gobhi Shalgam ka Saag and wind up with a creamy Gur aur Akhrot ki Phirni.

More later!

Sanjeev Kapoor

Merry And Cheery Christmas!

All of us here wish you a very Merry, Fun Filled and Feasty Christmas…we did a lot in the spirit of the moment and had a mini celebration in the office. Dress code, red and/or black. Tinsel and balloons were up as were golden stars….a beautifully decorated, ornate, Christmas cake was made and gushed over and then demolished in the evening. There was another cake cut to celebrate all the December birthdays, with coffee and freshly made in house doughnuts. Yum!
We all played something our HR Executive Miti called as Secret Santa….each one of us was to carry a gift for a team mate (the name of the recipient was secretly conveyed to each ensuring that an appropriate gift was brought along)! And then we all had to hunt for our gifts within the office premises. There was also a huge box that said ‘Put in your 2010 thank you notes’. Showing and expressing gratitude is the most humbling of all emotions….and these precious little notes were handed over to us as ‘greetings’ when we entered the party venue.
As we ended the day feeling so good, and replete, the warmth in the heart spreads out towards all of you.
Merry Christmas!
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Merry And Cheery Christmas!

All of us here wish you a very Merry, Fun Filled and Feasty Christmas…we did a lot in the spirit of the moment and had a mini celebration in the office. Dress code, red and/or black. Tinsel and balloons were up as were golden stars….a beautifully decorated, ornate, Christmas cake was made and gushed over and then demolished in the evening. There was another cake cut to celebrate all the December birthdays, with coffee and freshly made in house doughnuts. Yum!

Later came the page 3 awards (best Smile: winner, Creative: winner, Live wire: winner) with team activities. We all played something our HR Executive Miti called as Secret Santa….each one of us was to carry a gift for a team mate (the name of the recipient was secretly conveyed to each ensuring that an appropriate gift was brought along)! And then we all had to hunt for our gifts within the office premises. There was also a huge box that said ‘Put in your 2010 thank you notes’. Showing and expressing gratitude is the most humbling of all emotions….and these precious little notes were handed over to us as ‘greetings’ when we entered the party venue.

As we ended the day feeling so good, and replete, the warmth in the heart spreads out towards all of you.

Merry Christmas!

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Christmas celebrations – something different next year

Christmas with its beautiful colours and friendly times will come again! Time does not stop for anyone but it does bring home some bitter truths about the changing face of the Earth. Celebrations and parties means there is bound to some extra stuff to dispose off like disposable plates, glasses, napkins and bags. Celebrations also mean that more electricity has been used and maybe you did have a fresh fir tree. All these do point out that some portion of the natural resources has been used up, forever.
It is this time that one can become complacent about the environment in the name of celebrations and holidays. But it is important to remain green, look at being eco friendly more so. So a clean green Christmas needs to be planned. It could mean going green in the rituals, in the décor and food and entertainment. In fact we could see green clothed Santas this year…showing that eco friendly celebrations have made a good start and need to be reiterated.
Christmas trees: Artificial trees are also a good choice as they can be reused over and over for many years and in case you get bored, you can buy another one. If at all you are chopping down a real tree, make sure that you plant another one in its place!A large potted plant or a small tree can be used each year as your Christmas tree rather than buying a real tree that has been cut down. The real tree finally gets thrown away adding real damage to the environment.
Christmas decorations: You can make homemade wreaths using fresh foliage. Handmade décor made from recycled or eco- friendly materials are also a good option.
Christmas tree ornaments: Painted eggshells, aluminum foil, paper chains, paper snowflakes, old CD’s, gingerbread men, cookies etc all make excellent ornaments. Use your kid’s doll decorated as an angel for the tree top.
Gifts: In case your gift requires batteries, ensure that you include the rechargeable sorts with charger. In fact, you can simply gift a box of rechargeable batteries! Make the gifts at home if you really cannot think of what to give! Cakes, cookies are always appreciated.
Gift wraps: Colourful magazine papers, or using coloured pictures from your child’s colouring books for wrapping and decorating gifts is a good idea. You can put your gift inside another gift such as a decorative tin, wooden box and tie them with ribbons, etc. Using gift wraps, gift boxes, ribbons and bows from previous year’s celebrations is being sensible.
Greeting cards, gift tags and packaging materials: Save paper by sending an e-card. You can use crushed newspaper for box fillers.

Christmas recipes – Make cookies, wrap them up as gifts!

A wonderful hand made gift, packed just as beautifully, will touch the recipient’s heart for sure. Cakes, cup cakes, cookies and marzipan – whatever you wish to gift, can be made more special with innovative gift wrapping. Putting them just on a paper plate and sealing them in a plastic bag can be really boring. Go the extra step to make your cookies as festive and innovative as they can be.
Here are some tips that you can follow to store/gift wrap your cookies in the most interesting ways:
•You can choose from a variety of wrapping options like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, parchment paper, waxed paper and plastic bags.
•Cookies can be put in a decorated cardpaper cake box and sealed with wax paper. This becomes a packing as well as a way to keep the cookies fresh for a longer time.
•Cookies can be stacked in glass jars with seals. This brings some cool class!
•Christmas cookies can be packed in coloured or clear cellophane bags. Tying the bags with a ribbon and a small tag with the cookie’s recipe will wow the recipient. Try the Almond Cookies in this case.
•Another interesting way is to place cookies on a small, round cooling rack and then wrapping them in a new, clean dish towel or placing mat. You can showcase five or six cookies this way, and tie it all with some fabric ribbon and a gift tag.
Christmas cookies can be used to fill mugs with special messages of season’s greetings or any personalized message or picture.
•You can also line a basket with a clean colourful dish towel and put the cookies inside. Small baskets that are inexpensive and reusable, can be used to present cookies to the guests or family members in a warm and inviting way. Cover the basket with cellophane wrap to keep them fresh.
•Carryout food containers can also be used. Stick on some colourful festive bows or ribbon and these are good for small or medium cookies. Lemon and Pistachio Cookie is a good recipe.
•The cookies can be put in a nice bread pan. This protects them during shipping and makes it usable by the recipient over and over again. To add a touch of style, the pan can be wrapped in coloured cellophane and tied with a bow at the top.
However, what you should keep in mind while wrapping cookies is that, you should not wrap cookies which are warm or direct from the oven, decorated cookies that are not completely dry and soft and crisp cookies together as the soft ones will harden and the crisp ones will soften.