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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How Will You Welcome 2015?

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrations and customs vary across the world. While we in Mississippi are feasting on black-eyed peas and cabbage, take a gander at what festivities others across the world are enjoying:

The German custom of Bleigießen, or lead pouring, is known in English as molybdomancy, "a form of divination by observing the behavior of molten lead" (OED). To participate, a person melts a tiny blob of lead by holding it in a spoon over a candle or other small flame. After pouring the lead into a bowl of water, the shape is "interpreted" with various patterns portending certain events and changes. It reminds me of the time Harry Potter's Divination Class read tea leaves; I believe it has about the same accuracy rate. For instance, a lead blob that comes out looking like an apple signifies that your trust will be broken. Moon shaped blob? You'll be honored soon. Germans can buy Bleigießen sets which include the spoon, lead blobs, and interpretations. You can check out more meanings here.

Bleigießen set

In Spain, there is the tradition of las doce uvas de la suerte, or the twelve lucky grapes. One dozen of a particular variety of Spanish green grape is eaten as the clock strikes, ringing in the New Year. One grape per gong is hurriedly munched, but all twelve grapes must be consumed to guarantee a lucky new year. You can read more about this fun custom here.

12 lucky grapes

Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, is a Russian New Year's figure who came into even greater prominence during the country's Communist years. He visits children and hands out gifts like Santa Claus; he even looks quite a bit like Old Saint Nick.

Grandfather Frost and his helper, Snow Maiden
Ded Moroz even has GLONASS tracking so that children can watch his flight to distribute presents, just like Santa uses NORAD. Check out more about that here.

Craving even more fun New Year's customs? Check out this entry from a few years back. The staff at the Mississippi Library Commission hope that you have a fantastic 2015! Happy New Year!
New year's day (Russia). (2010). In Holidays, festivals, and celebrations of the world dictionary. Retrieved from
New year's eve (Spain). (2010). In Holidays, festivals, and celebrations of the world dictionary. Retrieved from
Silvester. (2007). In Collins german dictionary. Retrieved from

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hobbying it Up in 2015!

New Year's Day is fast approaching and a lot of folks are considering resolutions, goals, or even new hobbies to embrace in the New Year. Are you wanting to flex your artistic muscles, write a book, or publish your first academic article? Maybe you want to try canning, growing your own healthy food, or homesteading with your back yard as your own personal farm. Or perhaps you want to try a new exercise activity. We've got you covered!
Come by the Mississippi Library Commission to check out a few of these highlights from our collection. Who knows? Maybe you'll find a new hobby!

  • Cyclopedia: It's All About the Bike by William Fotheringham
  • The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
  • The Elements of Style: illustrated by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • Print Liberation: The Screen Printing Primer by Nick Paparone & Jamie Dillon with Luren Jenison
  • Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword
  • Put 'Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Friday, December 19, 2014

Spiritual Literacy Month

December is Spiritual Literacy Month!  According to Chase's Calendar of Events, Spiritual Literacy "promot[es] respect for and among the world's religions and spiritual traditions."  Here are some great spiritual books to read to put you in the right frame of mind. 

 Essential Chan Buddhism: The Character and Spirit of Chinese Zen
By Chan Master Guo Jun
Chan Master Guo Jun shares his wisdom and insights from the heart and soul of Chan.  Chan is related, to but distinct from, its close relation, Japanese Zen.  Guo Jun gives us glimpses of his own arduous ascetic path and the ways Chan embodies not only Buddhism but Taoism and Confucianism.

Hinduism: World Religions
By Madhu Bazaa Wangu
This book clearly and succinctly presents the customs and beliefs of Hinduism as it is practiced today and deals as well with the mysteries and myths that sustained its growth over the centuries.

Judaism: World Religions
By Martha Morris and Stephen F. Brown
Morris and Brown offer a clear account of the history and ritual observances of Judaism, including its rites of passage, its places of worship, its sacred use of the ancient Hebrew language, and the role of the faith in preserving the Jewish identity and establishing the contemporary nation of Israel.

Lighting the Seventh Fire: The Spiritual Ways, Healing, and Science of the Native American
By F. David Peat
This book describes a stress-free and inspiring way of life so very different from the harsh, complex world in which we live.  Dr. F. David Peat, a theoretical physicist, addresses topics on: healing and disease, science, mathematics, history and myth, language, and time.


My Spiritual Alphabet Book
By Holly Bea
Illustrated by Kim Howard.
Bea's book combines playful rhyming text with warm and joyful illustrations to introduce young children to the world of the spirit.

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth
By M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Dr. Peck guides his readers through the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher level of self-understanding on the journey to spiritual growth.  Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life.

We hope that these books lift your spirits.  Check out more spiritual books at MLC
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