How to say goodbye to 2020?
What about: good riddance. Scram. Take a powder. Don’t let the door hit you where the dog bit you.
In fact, we don’t just want to say it. We want to do something about it.
What’s needed is an exorcism, a cleansing. And that’s where New Year’s rituals can help.
“It’s a way to purge yourself of something that’s painful, removing something from yourself,” said Lisa Lyons, a Teaneck psychologist.
Some years pass like a beloved grandmother, leaving cherished memories behind. Others are more like a hated houseguest — one that constantly raids the icebox, smokes in the bedroom, wrecks the family car, and tells inappropriate jokes to the children. We don’t just want them out of the house. We want to fumigate it afterwards.
Fires, floods, hurricanes, politics gone haywire, a deadly pandemic: it hasn’t been dull. We need some potent magic to make sure 2020 goes away and never comes back.
Some of our neighbors in other lands have a trick or two. In Mexico, families symbolically sweep the old year out the door with a broom. In Ecuador, papier-mâché effigies of troublesome people or things from the old year are stuffed with fireworks and set alight on the street at the stroke of midnight.
That might do for a start.
“I think there are a lot of people doing cleansing rituals,” said Christopher Midose, astrologer, student of the metaphysical and co-owner of Earth Spirit New Age Center in Red Bank.
A lot of customers this year, he says, are asking about purgatives and protections. Anything that can banish the bad juju of 2020, and promote a happier 2021.
But you don’t have to believe in the supernatural to benefit from ritual.
All of us have our little rites and sacraments — formal ways of marking occasions and making requests of the cosmos. It can be something as simple as making a wish when you blow out the birthday candles. Such things serve a profound psychological and spiritual need, whatever your system of belief — or disbelief.
“I think rituals are really important,” Lyons said. “Think about the rituals we all partake in — the way we celebrate a holiday, the way we mark our kids’ first day at school, the way we save photographs. Rituals kind of organize your emotional self, the fragments of internal emotion, into something a little more concrete and cohesive. It’s a way of remembering. Or forgetting.”