Watchnight – Welcoming the New Year in Prayer

Memories of New Year’s Eve celebrations from childhood do not bring pictures of noisy airhorns, blasting fireworks or couples kissing as the clock strikes twelve.

In fact, my family celebrated by going to church for what was called a “Watchnight” service. It involved a potluck dinner, worship and sermon, dessert and games. I never understood why it was called a “watchnight.” How does one watch a night anyway?

When it got close to midnight, everyone would get on their knees and pray the new year in.

Since then, I have celebrated New Year’s Eve in many fun ways. After graduating high school, I moved to Southern California where I enjoyed going to Knott’s Berry Farm, listening to Christian bands until midnight, and then watching the numbers of the new year light up on its tallest tower.

One time I spent all night on the streets of Pasadena in a sleeping bag so I could get a great spot on the curb to see the Rose Parade in person (something I had only seen on TV growing up).

I used to stay up until the clock ticked 12:01 and listen to the fireworks go off in our neighborhood as I made resolutions (which I usually broke in a few days).

Now I can barely keep my eyes open till ten. Resolutions are made year-round instead of on one night. When the fireworks go off, I hold my dog tight and comfort him instead.

A new year can mark new beginnings, and this year will bring many changes. But as new adventures begin, I hope I will take a lesson from my childhood memories of New Year’s Eve and begin it on my knees in prayer.

How about you?

Do you have any fun or unusual New Year’s Eve traditions? Please share in the comments!

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