Christian: Welcome New Year; keep Watch Night

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31: Fireworks will light up the skies, toasts will be made to good health and resolutions will be sworn by citizens worldwide tonight, as people around the globe mark New Year’s Eve. (Catch the latest events from Times Square at its official New Year’s Eve site—and try out New Year’s recipes from AllRecipes. Having a nonalcoholic New Year’s? AllRecipes has a list of nonalcoholic New Year’s drink recipes, too!)

In some Christian traditions, tonight is Watch Night—a time to sing, pray and review the year behind. Origins of this service are debated, but many link this late-night vigil with the biblical passage that calls Christians to be awake and prepared for the hour when Christ comes. It’s no surprise that some Christians, including the Puritans, objected to the heavy drinking and other revelry that accompanied New Year celebrations. These Christians sought a more pious alternative to the popular New Year festivities. (Wikipedia has details.)

Today, Watch Night services are particularly popular in Afro-centric congregations, although a multitude of Christian churches hold these services. Attendees typically confess sins of the past year and profess a better year ahead. Many believe a special blessing accompanies those who begin a new year inside a church. Are you part of a Watch Night tradition? We’ve been writing about New Year’s Resolutions all week at—and would like to hear from you about your pledges for 2011.

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