And Happy New Year to All of You!
Have you ever thought about the significance of something as simple as a bell? Not only were church bells of old used to announce the time to anyone within hearing distance, bells in general have been used since the earliest of times as a type of alarm, warning those nearby of things that were about to happen, things that were both "good" and some things that were "not so good." The tolling of a bell, even today, may serve as an announcement that a child has been born, a couple has just been married, or that a death has occurred. During medieval times, the simple ringing of a bell was believed to have kept evil spirits away, and it was a common practice to ring a bell at the bedside of the deceased prior to burial. In modern times, bells of all sizes, types and sounds have been used in churches, schools, and other public places. Even our doorbells and the bell that ding-dings in our cars when we don't buckle up have evolved from these early uses of bells as warning or announcement devices.
Today, bells are almost always used in even the simplest of our holiday traditions, both religious and secular. But neither Christmas nor a New Year's wish would be the same without bells.