A Search For Traditions- The New Year Bell

I'm not very good with family traditions. I get tired of doing things again and again each year. The one family tradition that we established and have been quite good at doing year after year since we had children is that every New Years Eve, we sit around making New Year's hats. Usually they come out quite ridiculous....

It's a great tradition, but after ten years of doing this consistently I'm a bit tired of it.  This year we decided to search for a new tradition, especially since the girls are older now and can stay up later.  So at 11:30pm we headed out to the end of the peninsula at Shelter Island to ring the Yokohama Friendship Bell.  A Japanese tradition run by Buddhist monks, people line up to ring the bell 108 times as this is the number of human imperfections that the Buddhists recognize (I think that's generous, a lot of religions would put another "0" on that number!).

We stood in a long line and the monks did a brief "sutra" or prayer.  The the line began to move forward as people crossed a little bridge and up the steps , weaving around behind the bell to ring it.

As we approached the bell became louder and louder.

The girls were shaking with excitement as they anticipated their chance to swing the big log!

As we wove around the ringing bell I could feel my fillings vibrate in my teeth!

Naomi barely tapped the bell with the big log.  They called her back and helped her give a good "gong".  Mike bounced the log off the bell with a an amazing sound.  Phoebe had trouble but did better than Naomi.  Chloe and I were about the same with an average thump.  Here's a blurry picture of me giving it a shot!

As we walked away more and more people wove up the steps to ring the bell...

We wandered over to the little table with Buddhist pamphlets, cookies and candy.  While we munched on the little cookies, Phoebe looked at me with excitement in her eyes and said, "Mommy, can we do this again next year?"
"Sure!" I grinned. "Happy New Year!"


Unknown said…
Sounds like a lovely tradition to start. Fully of anticipation and excitment. I hope it brings you good things for 2011
Found you through blogfrog!

I think the hat creating is a great idea and so is the bell ringing! Both look like they are super fun!

I hope you all have had a great New Year's!

I'm a new follower!
Unknown said…
Here from Blogfrog. What a lovely new tradition! Happy New Year!
Looks like everyone missed making hats... So now we have two New Years traditions! :)
Carol E Wyer said…
Some traditions are just too much fun to give up. I really enjoyed this post. It filled me with optiism and made me smile...maybe the bell ringing enthusiasm is catching. Thanks for the nice feeling it left me.
Anonymous said…
I have a hard time with traditions too. That bell ringing thing looks pretty cool though. My boys would love it!
Carolyn the bell ringing sounds so cool! My brother and sister-in-law who is Japanese go every year at New Year's to be purified by a Buddhist monk. I'll have to ask him if he rings the bell too.

I'm a new friend and soon to be a new follower. I love your blog.:) Thank you for adding me.
Blakkbutterfly said…
What a wonderful New Years ritual! I can only imagine how loud the bell was :)
Interesting tradition of ringing the bell. Glad you had a good time. Hubby and I were sick with colds so we just stayed home and watched a DVD! Take care!

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