The popular figure that is usually used to represent the old year is a figure called Father Time. He is usually represented as an old man with a long white beard, dressed in a long robe, carrying a scythe or a sickle and sometimes holding an hour glass. Where did this figure come from?
He can be traced back to the god Chronos, not to be confused with the Titan Cronus. He is said to be the representation of time itself. In some Greco-Roman mosaics, he is pictured as turning the Zodiac Wheel and is often named Aeon meaning Eternal Time. In some traditions he is also called the Father of the Horae ( Hours ). He was the second primordial god to be created and controls the past, present and future of everything. Without Chronos the other Greek gods would not have ever been made. Chronos is sometimes pictured as an old wise man with a long beard. His name in modern Greek also means "year."
Another figure that Father Time can be traced back to is the Roman deity of time, Saturn. He was also an ancient Italian corn god known as the Sower. His favorite weapon of choice was the scythe or sickle. He was honored by the Romans at Midwinter festival called Saturnalia.
Saturn's flint sickle represents the harvest of the crops. Time can be seen as a harvester of crops of the days of the past or for the days of the future.
Sometimes Father Time is seen with an hour glass which can be seen as a symbol of the flow of time as both a destructive as well as a constructive effect. His decrepit body and long white beard can be considered a reminder that time itself is a devourer of all things. Nothing can escape time, but the gift of time is the serenity and the wisdom that are harvested only though the experience living of a long life.
Baby New Year
The custom of using a baby to symbolize the New Year began in Greece around 600 B.C. The Greeks celebrated their God of Wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket to represent the annual rebirth of Dionysus as the spirit of fertility. The early Egyptians also used the baby as a symbol of rebirth.
Although early Christians denounced the practice of using a baby as being pagan in nature, its significance as a personification of rebirth later forced the Church to reevaluate its position. Eventually, it was decreed that Church members would be permitted to celebrate the New Year using a symbolic baby, provided it illustrated the birth of the baby Jesus.
The use of a baby's image as a banner for New Year celebrations was brought to America by the Germans. Father Time and Baby New Year are still seen in decorations for New Year celebrations as well as New Year greeting cards.
Follow this link to Vintage New Years Clip Art showing Father Time and Baby New Year.
Follow this link to other New Year Clip Art: