Activities for a New Year - What's Up with Babies?

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The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.

Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the church to reevaluate its position.

The church finally allowed its members to celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus. One of things people are curious about on January 1 is who the first baby is.

Two songs associated with babies are "Baby Face" and "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby."

The song Baby Face was written by Benny Davis and Harry Akst and originally sung by Bing Crosby. It was written for the movie of the same title in 1933. That movie was scandalous at the time, released before Hollywood strictly enforced censorship rules. It starred Barbara Stanwyck as a bootlegger's daughter who eventually flees to New York where she promptly sleeps her way to the top of a banking empire. This lurid story was rejected by many theater owners and local censorship boards across the United States, causing Warner Bros. to withdraw the film and make changes. The initial release version was believed lost until a nitrate duplicate negative was recently discovered in the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center in Dayton, Ohio, enabling the film to be restored to its full, original sordidness.

You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby was written by Johnny Mercer & Harry Warren and originally recorded by Bing Crosby on October 14, 1938. Bing's brother, Bob, provided the orchestral accompaniment for Bing's third No. 1 hit of 1938. It entered the charts in December, where it remained for 11 weeks, including two weeks at the top.

  • Ask residents to contribute their baby photos and put a collage together.
  • Have a contest to see who can match the resident with the photograph. Include families, visitors and staff.

Great Time to Think About Inter-generational Programs

Speaking of babies or little ones, you might consider a new year as a new opportunity to create inter-generational programs with your facility and local schools.

Grace Living Center in Oklahoma City partnered with Oklahoma City Public Schools regularly busing kids from school to the homes for reading activities. The focus should be on building relationships, not just community service. Come up with a specific classroom project, and introduce yourself to the school. See whether there might be points of connection. Match activities to residents' cognitive and physical abilities.

You may want to check out Generations United.

Generations United is a strong voice supporting the development and expansion of programs bringing children, youth and older adults together.

  They serve as the clearinghouse for information on different types of inter-generational programs and a champion making the case for local programs across the county and around the world.

They believe that you can only be successful in the face of a complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.

Read our full series of articles for January activities - Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

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