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Post your ideas and resources for celebrating the New Year with children in the church.



 Here's an idea to get you started:

Celebrate New Year's Eve with your kids in class on Sunday morning or in Children's fellowship.

See some of the New Year's Bible verses and games below in this topic. Add your ideas!



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Did  you know that "noise makers" are biblical?  Read below!

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Celebrating the New Year

Leviticus specifies the celebration each fall of Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year with the blasting of ram's horns, ritual blessing, worship, and the sharing of special foods. Many of us in the Christian Church have transported these celebrations to January 1st when most of the world celebrates the promise of a new year.

Two parts of this ancient New Year's celebration are particularly fun with children:  the making and blowing of the "Ram's Horn," and the dipping of apples into honey.

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Here's a great link about the wonderful tradition and ritual of dipping apples.  Children can create an "apple bowl" to take home and share this tradition, or prepare it for each other, or the congregation. I've incorporated the dipping of apples into the Communion liturgy. We noted that Jesus himself likely celebrated this way, and we used the Hebrew phrase spoken during the ritual which everyone seemed to enjoy All in all, it was well received. 

Google "apples and honey" and "blowing the ram's horn" for more details on that theologically rich tradition.

ramshorn

This teacher has come up with a great way for kids to make their own ram's horns using a party horn, paper tube and colorful masking tape. My Tip: cut the party horn tube and insert it into the paper tube then tape together, rather than just using the mouthpiece. Why "horns"?  To announce the coming of the King into his Temple and his bestowing of a new year upon us!


Here's wiki's entry on what to say at New Year's

The Hebrew common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is Shanah Tovah (Hebrew: שנה טובה‎) (pronounced [ʃaˈna toˈva]), which translated from Hebrew means "[have] a good year". Often Shanah Tovah Umetukah (Hebrew: שנה טובה ומתוקה‎), meaning "A Good and Sweet Year", is used.

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Shofar so good!

Here's a link to a craft site with instructions for making a shofar (which is the ram's horn blown to signal the new year) using a real noisemaker. I'm not a fan of the one's that simply say "use a toilet paper roll" -when it's much more fun to use the noisemaker from a party horn in your project. 

Take the plastic horn from a party blower, then tape and wrap butcher paper around it to make a Shofar. Decorate and give it a coat of Modge Podge (glue) to harden and give it a shine.

http://www.freekidscrafts.com/make-a-shofar/shofar-horn

Ram's Horn blasts are commanded in the Torah (Leviticus 23:24).
The word "blast" is "teruah" in Hebrew. ("Ruah" for breath or wind, and "Ter" for "loud" or "alarm.")  They were blown at festivals, to sound the alarm, to call people to worship, and were expected to be heard at the coming of the Messiah and end of the world.

"The sound of the teruah is both earthly and Divine. It comes from an animal, but makes the same sound that was heard on the top of Mount Sinai when God addressed the people. Music can be celebratory, but the sound of the shofar is more than just a sound of jubilation. It is the sound of the presence of God, and the sound we use to cry out to God when we need God’s intervention." Excerpted from MyJewishLearning.com

Why welcome the New Year?  Because no matter when you celebrate it, time is considered a blessing and gift from God.

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"Watchnight" and a Brief History of New Years

New Year's Eve and celebrating the New Year has a long tradition in Judaism and Christianity.  Among Protestant, Methodists under Wesley celebrated "Watchnight" New Year's Eve services as literally a sober occasion for reflection and confession. Prior to that, "watchnight" in the Catholic Church and among other Protestants typically referred to Christmas Eve services. 

New Year's as a "holy day" has been celebrated by many cultures and religions dating back to the dawn of human history. Typically celebrated during the Winter Solstice, they observed the shortening of days and the life to death to rebirth metaphor and reality of the natural world. Many ancient monuments around the world, such as, Stonehenge, speak to this human need to "mark time" and "pray for the future."

Roman's named January, the first month of the New Year, after the god "Janus" who was depicted with two heads: one looking back and one looking forward. 

The Hebrews, following a different calendar, celebrated the end of the year in the Fall during the Festival of Rosh Hashanah. Some scholars believe that this tradition came into Judaism from the Persians during the Babylonian Exile.

The making of noise on New Years, which is found in many cultures across time, harkens to the ancient idea of scaring away evil and calling the gods to bless the people. As with many other traditions, Jews and Christians borrowed and transformed these practices to point to God.

Rosh Hashana is also known as the "Feast of Trumpets." The shofar (horn/trumpet) of Rosh Hashanah announces God's blessing and calls people to worship in the New Year.

shofar

"Confession and Change" have long been themes in New Years and Rosh Hashanah celebrations, and they continue today where we call them "resolutions."  The pagan idea was that the return of the sun, the gods favor, could be won by confession and sacrifice. Today we recognize that God is not capricious, and that confession and the possibility of change are to be celebrated every day.

Jesus celebrated the New Year

Jesus undoubtedly observed Rosh Hashanah, and in his day, the meaning of it also had Messianic implications. Some believed that the "end of the world" or arrival of the Messiah might happen on the New Year. (Zechariah 14 predicts this day when the Messiah will stride on the Mount and split it in half.)  The Book of Revelation's multiple references to "blasts of trumpets" refers to the shophar and its tradition. 

HebrewForChristians has a terrific summary of the Jewish New Year and many different celebration ideas. http://www.hebrew4christians.c.../rosh_hashannah.html

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Games and Demonstrations for New Years, Rosh Hashanah

Many fun children's party games can be re-purposed or re-themed for New Year lessons.

A Different Kind of Jenga Tower
Things you should not remove. Things you need to remove. Things you should put into the tower!
After discussion, write on several blocks the "things we need/shouldn't remove," "things we need to get rid of to be better disciples," and "things we need to add into the table for the New Year."  Roll dice or use spinner to determine which of the three types of blocks the player must manipulate in their turn.

Balloon stomp, Sit on a Balloon games
Write your confession on a balloon with a permanent marker, then play various games to burst those balloons.  Balloon stomp (balloon tied to ankle). Relay -run to sit on your balloon until it pops.  Confessions can be of various types, such as, "things I didn't do well this past year," "a person I offended," etc.

Guess the confession, Guess the change
Write on slips and toss into a hat. See if group can guess who is making the public confession or thing they want to change in the coming year.

Hot Potato
Illustrate the need to take sin seriously and not keep passing it off. If you don't deal with sin, it will eventually hurt you, your relationships, and your relationship with God. 

What's the Missing Ingredient that will change our lives in the New Year?
Demonstration that make a fizzy point by adding the missing ingredient. See the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment.  Also, alka-seltzer experiment that blows up the balloon. Build discussion about the ingredient we need to change our lives then add the ingredient to the liquid and stand back. What could each mentos or fizz tablet represent? Need for God, need to be more helpful, more truthful, more will power, more considerate, etc.

Meaningful Memory Concentration Card Game
cardsThrough discussion, create a set of matching cards that you can play "concentration" with. Create pairs of cards with themes, such as, things to change about myself in the New Year, things to give up, things to do more of, something about my attitude I will change, a person I will spend more time with, etc etc. As kids match those cards, they must provide an answer to the cards they have matched.

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Newness, new life, forgiving the past, hope for the future, God's plans

--these are all biblical themes that fit well with the time-honored message and cross-cultural celebration of New Year's. They are important messages to share with our children. And they speak to the tradition and culture surrounding this annual event which have become secularized.

I am not suggesting we plan New Year's Eve church events!  Rather, we should take the time to celebrate what our faith has to say to this annual and worldwide, Why not celebrate it on the first Sunday morning after New Years? Or as part of a fellowship event? Or at least touch on it in a children's sermon.

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New Year's Bible Verses 

Fresh Start
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so we can serve you.  Palm 130: 3-4

Forget what is behind and strive forward
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

New Creation
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  1 Cor 5:17

I have plans for you
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Make our days ahead count
“So teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

God wants your year to be good
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  Psalm 20:4

Some ideas about how to teach these verses:

1. Assign verses to pairs of students who must come up with a skit-situation that illustrates the idea of the verse. 

2. If you had to have one of these verses tatooed on your arm, which one would you choose?  Follow up by writing part of your selected verse using henna (which will wear off).

3. Make a list of what students thing is "old," "no longer useful," "isn't helpful" that they should leave in the past or toss out with the New Year's trash.  Invite them to write something on a piece of paper from their past that hasn't been good for them and then wad it up and throw it away.

4. Write a "letter to your self" about the past year and year ahead, then seal it in an envelope, put your name on the envelope and give it to your teacher. Mail it to the students in 6 months.  What to put in the letter?  Things you want to leave in the past. New attitudes and improved relationships you hope will happen in the new year. Personal goals.

I hope these suggestions stoke your creativity. Please post your own suggestions!

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