At the stroke of midnight we started banging our pots together or using the ladles to bang away on huge kettle pots. We began indoors and then we went out into the cold. We lived in the Rockies in British Columbia so winter was winter there. We must have made a sight standing in the dark of night beating and smashing pans. The noise was incredible. It added to those, in the rest of the village, who were also standing out in night coats and bathrobes banging their pots and their pans.
It was pandemonium.
I never asked why we did this, not for years. I assumed, as children do, that it was just a fun way to make the start of the new year. Then, once, in conversation with my Sunday School teacher, a woman I liked and admired then, and remember with fondness and admiration now, I learned the truth about the noise. The noise was to drive away demons and bad luck and things that go bump in the night. She told me, "The devil hates noise. The devil craves silence. Evil needs silence to succeed."
The year after learning that, I banged my pots with more determination than abandon. I like the idea of having the power to drive away evil.
I hadn't thought of this for a long while. Then, this morning Mike put this video up on his Facebook page of Ruby and Sadie outside with their dad banging and crashing on pots and pans:
Then, again, I thought about what my Sunday School teacher had said, sitting with me, talking about the tradition. Evil needs silence to succeed.
Evil needs silence to succeed.
Bullies, and abusers, and bigots, and prejudice expect and depend upon the silence of their victims and the tight lips of the witnesses.
A racist joke is told, not to be funny, but to see if any dare speak up and raise a word of protest.
A picture of a fat woman in Walmart with toilet paper hanging out the back of her pants is put on Facebook, not to be funny, but to see if any dare to break silence and come to her defense.
A kid with Down Syndrome is mimicked by another student, not to be funny, but to see if any dare. speak with action, and stand with her.
They test for our silence.
And if we fail that test.
This year I resolve that my silence will not be a bigots tool in the quest to hurt and oppress. This year I resolve to bang pots and pans to drive out evil - all year long.