Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Just Another Day?

Sydney celebrates New Year last night (photo:
It's the first day of 2014. At least it is according to the Gregorian Calendar. It is a holiday, and is usually celebrated festively, and we now have amazing firework displays around the World competing for the most spectacular. Actually, in religious terms the significance of the New Year is that it represents the day when Christ was circumcised and officially given his name. The Gregorian Calendar only came into being in the 18th century, and before that, the English celebrated New Year on March 25th which is the day that Gabriel apparently told Mary that she would bear the son of God (the Annunciation). Most of the Western world eventually adopted January 1st in line with the Gregorian Calendar, ironically matching the pagan festival of Janus which was celebrated by Romans and from which we get the name January.

January 1st is only the New Year in the Western Christian world. There are plenty of other New Year's celebrated throughout the year. Chinese New Year usually falls around the end of January or start of February. This year they are celebrating the year of the Horse, which is the same year in which I was born, which hopefully augurs well for me! The Chinese New Year was created over 1000 years before the birth of Christ although it has had developments over the millenia. Ancient calendars also dominate the middle east where different New Year's are celebrated, such as in Iran (Nowruz) where the vernal equinox around March 21 is celebrated, or the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) which takes place in September. Our multicultural societies make us more aware of the celebrations of other cultures, and it is hard not to be aware of the Diwali festivities that often happen in November.

Chinese New Year is a very red celebration! (photo: wikipedia)

So with all this variation on what constitutes the New Year, is January 1st, much like March 25th, or a certain day in virtually any month of the year really that significant? Or is it just another day? One thing that people in the western world do is make resolutions. I saw the most sensible reaction to resolutions on Twitter the other day, by none other than ex World chess Champion, Garry Kasparov:

"Making resolutions once a year is as effective as eating healthy food once a year or exercising once a year. Consider your plans every day"

So what did I do on my New Year's Day here in Melbourne? Well, I slept in as it had been a late night, went for a coffee with Caroline who had the day off work, then went shopping and finally went for a run. Was that really any different from a normal day? Well apart from the lack of cafes open, or the amount of people in IKEA looking to bag a sale item it wasn't really too different. I do appreciate that January 1st can represent a new start for people, especially if the previous year was not too good. But what I'm really trying to say is that any day can represent a new start for someone, and the important thing for each of us is to make the most of every day. Of course I still wish people Happy New Year, and I still indulge in the festivities, but the things and people who mean something to me are just as important every day.

For anyone reading this, I hope 2014 is a great year for you :)

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