New Year’s Greetings from the Past.
From the Gazette of Jan. 1, 1847:
“A Happy New Year.” These words fall like music upon the ear, and send a thrill of delight through our hearts. The most desponding and the most careworn of our race, as well as the rich and happy, shout forth in merry peals, “A Happy New Year.”
We know, indeed of nothing that is welcomed and hailed by all with such joy and gladness. Thanksgiving Day is looked forward to by many with delight — but how many poor souls in our land fail of partaking of the great abundance that on that day regales the inmates of our dwellings. Christmas comes, too, with a smiling face, and scatters her gifts over the land. But how many forget that on that day Christ was born? The Fourth of July proclaims a nation’s birthday, but how often are Christians and philanthropists pained at the desecration of the day? And how often do we mourn the unnecessary loss of life that occurs on that occasion?
But the New Year brings gladness to all. The poor man welcomes it, because hope whispers that his condition may be bettered ere its close. The rich man, because of pleasing anticipations and expected happiness. “Happy New Year” — and may God grant that the thrill of happiness those words send to our hearts be not the last we receive from its advent.
— Edgar Marchant
From the Gazette of Dec. 31, 1896:
A happy and prosperous New Year to all our friends.
— Charles H. Marchant
From the Gazette edition of Dec. 29, 1921:
Across the sky the shades of night
This winter’s eve are fleeting;
We deck thine altar, Lord, with light,
In solemn worship meeting;
And as the year’s last hours go by,
We lift to Thee our earnest cry
Once more Thy love entreating.
From the Gazette of Dec. 27, 1946:
In the interval between Christmas and New Year’s, these two holidays serve as bulwarks for a while to protect our minds from what has been and from what is to come. We drift, we look around, we think without the usual urgency for thought.
In the Christmas season most of us have just finished remaking the world as we would like it to be, remaking it in music, in the pictures on Christmas cards, in gifts to one another, and not least in tranquility and wistfulness of our own hearts. How different this Christmas world is from reality! It turns us back from so much that has happened, and renews so much we have long left behind.
And then, after a week, the new year begins.
It would be well if the new year could be built of the materials of Christmas and this week utilized as a reservoir of more solid character than mere intention.
Here we are, in the interval between the best of the old and the hope of the new, and we desire so earnestly to relate them together.
How different will it be this time? We shall soon know. New Year’s is beyond the threshold. Humanity steps out. Happy New Year.
— Henry Beetle Hough
From the Gazette of Dec. 31, 1971:
Tennyson’s Victorian lines would “Ring out the old, ring in the new . . . ring out the false, ring in the true.” We live in a time more wry when the ringing of the bells is heard dimly or irreverently. More suited to the mood of New Year’s 1972, are the words of Charles Lamb: “No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is the nativity of our common Adam.” Let us reflect — and if we can manage to hear the bells ring, so much the better.
We are starting again around the sun, all of us, with all our companions of the natural world and our accumulated baggage of the unnatural world. None of it can we leave behind.
From the old-fashioned viewpoint that we prefer, being human, the sun has started on its way back.
Of course it hasn’t yet lined up with the end of Main street, being invoked here only in a symbolic sense to make astronomy the local matter that in our Vineyard towns it always seems and maybe is.
As one year ends we look down our particular Main street in the morning to see a yellow moon paling and setting; at the beginning of a year our days keep watch on the sun as it edges to another equinoctial destination. And so we pass the nativity of our common Adam. Happy New Year!
— Henry Beetle Hough
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner