This is the time of year I put everything into the brand new calendar, making sure I have all the dates right and so on. Of course, I’ve since moved on to a type of calendar where most of that is of little issue (bless Llewellyn, for all their faults and even if they will publish anyone). Today is New Year’s Day. Last night, a bunch of people got very drunk and kissed strangers at the stroke of midnight in the name of good luck. This morning, they’re hungover, watching the Rose Parade, and thinking about football. Many people still make resolutions, only to kiss them goodbye come February.
These phenomena have me thinking: maybe a proper “new year” celebration just as the harsh bits of winter set in, is a bad idea. It’s certainly arbitrary, and who knows why January was chosen as opposed to some other date, but from where I stand, I’m seeing forward into a cold, harsh couple of months, and worst case scenario? It won’t let up until June. Were it up to me, I would keep the warm holiday gatherings going for at least a few more weeks, as I see absolutely no reason to cut off the warm fuzzies of “the Christmas season” at 12:01 Dec. 26th. Especially when I’ll want that fireside vibe come February when we start seeing -20 routinely.
Maybe there is a logic behind the Jan. 1 date that I’m missing. Something perhaps to do with the coming cold. I have my doubts, but that isn’t to say a New Year’s date can’t be chosen without a reason. Kemetic New Year, Wep Ronpet, is marked by the heliacal (before the Sun) rising of the star Sirius, which used to coincide with the annual flooding of the Nile River. Fields are flooded, go have a party or go work on the Pharaoh’s new project. Makes sense to me.
I’ve also read that Samhain is “Celtic New Year” on a principle that the day starts at sunset, such as in Jewish tradition and the system known as Byzantine time, and so a new year should start at the beginnings of the darkest part. Also makes a fair bit of sense.
Learning all this has given me a more fluid idea of what “new year” means. I’ve kind of reached the conclusion that it can start at any day you see fit, really. Similar to the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. But I don’t do that, not in the way that sounds. I take it to mean that if I want to start something, I don’t have to wait for an arbitrary date unless there is a practical concern involved (such as filling in a new calendar).