Sunday, December 31, 2006

New year, how does it feel?

This post is dedicated to all those people who feel sad and melancholic because of the end of 2006, and also for those who feel nervous and insecure because of the beginning of 2007.
Changing our calendars from December 31 to January 1 is for most people a reason to celebrate and, for some who have strong beliefs and superstitions, to perform some sort of rituals to "appeal" good things for the new year (like, for example, wearing red underwear or new clothes).
In rough terms, for people who don't follow any Christian or Catholic faith (religions for which, to be honest, I'm not sure what exactly is the meaning of the new year), the Gregorian or Julian new year that begins each January is nothing more than passing from one day to another. In its very core, it's just like if we were passing from March 31 to April 1 in any year, or from June 4 to 5. So actually, this day is like any other throughout the year. The particularity for this specific date is that we also have a little change in the last digit of the year, which essentially, doesn't affect our way of living.
Still, people who regard the new year in a very spiritual manner (different than the religious one) consider it a time for a "new beginning". Some others take it as an ideal moment to make promises to themselves, like 'This year I promise myself to lose some weight', or 'I promise myself that I'm going to do well in my studies'. I think that it's good to have new beginnings and to undertake new challenges and opportunities always; and my personal belief is that "new beginnings" may be taken every day... whenever you need them, and whenever you want them. There's no need to wait for a specific date to do so.
Another factor that really influences certain individuals in this date is nostalgia. Some people regret the things that they didn't do in the ending year: "Oh, I wish I would have done xxxxxx", and "I regret not having spent some more time with xxxxx" are common thoughts for the last day in the year. For people who think like that, I can tell you that there's no point on being so negative. There's always a tomorrow, and although there's no way to recover time, there's always a new chance to do the things you want. Forget about the date, each day is a new day.
Not amazingly, in some cultures December 31 and January 1 are not special dates in the calendar. Many communities follow own calendars that don't necessarily match the beginning of their year with January 1st. Just to cite some examples, the Jewish Calendar considers that the first day of its year is Tishrei 1. This date normally moves in the Gregorian calendar from year to year, usually taking place sometime between early September and late October. The Islamic calendar observes the first day of the month of Muharram as the beginning of its year. This one, just as the Jewish Calendar, is ruled by the moon, so the beginning of Muharram varies every year compared with the Gregorian calendar. The next beginning of Muharram is going to be during the second half of January 2007. Another example is the Chinese calendar, which observes a lunisolar pattern. For this calendar, the new year begins on the night when the second new moon after the winter solstice occurs. The approximate time in the Gregorian calendar when this occurs is around the second half of January and the first half of February.
Essentially, there's no reason to feel melancholic or nervous about the year that is ending, and the one that is just about to begin. The way I see it, the new year celebration gives people a good excuse to share and spend times with the family and friends, and it constitutes a good engine that keeps economies moving.
So enjoy wisely the day, and happy new year!


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