I’ve ranted in this space more than a few times about how today is a lousy choice for the start of a new year.
Today is the start of a new year, at least according to the traditional western calendar.
As I’ve ranted previously in this space, January 1 is an odd place to celebrate this dividing line. But, while there are several other demarkation points that would make more sense (April? Maybe September), my irrational thoughts won’t change things, so let’s move on.
Happy New Year!
Although, today is a somewhat odd date for a big beginning. It’s not the start of any meteorological season. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is just getting started. Hardly a reason to celebrate.
No religion I can think of holds January 1 as sacred. In fact, here in the US, starting the new year on September 1 would more closely align with a major religious event – the start of football season. All hail the NFL!
Happy New Year. If you live in a part of the world that follows the traditional Gregorian calendar.
January 1 has always seemed like an odd place to put this particular dividing line. The Romans and other ancient cultures positioned the start of their calendars in the spring when nature seemed to be waking up from the winter. March 1 would be more hopeful date following a hard winter.
Of course all of that is based on the Northern Hemisphere, Eurocentric view of the world. Just imagine how celebrating the start of a new year would be different if we were using a calendar created in another part of the world.
I’ve lived and worked most of my life in an academic calendar, so somewhere around September 1 was more the start of a new year than today. This point has always been a welcome break before continuing with the second half (more like two-thirds) of the year.
But, if you think about it, midnight last night was just an artificial dividing line anyway. Today is really not different from yesterday (unless you’re a tax accountant). We divide life into chunks – months, quarters, semesters, years – for convenience and consistency. Life itself flows rather than restarting at particular intervals.
Many people use the start of the new calendar as motivation to make major alterations in their lives: eat better, exercise more, develop better habits. Not me. Certainly not because I have nothing that needs improving. The list seems to grow as I get older and more critical of myself.
However, I’ve lived long enough to know that big changes, executed on a fixed schedule rarely work. For most of us, New Year resolutions are largely abandoned before Groundhog Day.
Better to set goals for ourselves whenever we realize they’re needed, and then make smaller course corrections as required. Like on New Year’s Day.
Anyway, thank you for reading to the end of this random ramble. Let’s all make the next collection of 365 days better than the previous one.
The photo is of the sun rising on the Potomac River, as seen from the Alexandria waterfront, January 1, 2012.
Although I’ve always thought September 1 would make a much better New Year’s Day, western society has decided today will be that largely artificial dividing line. So, here we are in the year designated as 2018.
So, how will today and the ones that follow be different from the 365 that came before? Unless you came into a big inheritance when the calendar clicked over, I suspect for most of us the answer is not very.
However, after the chaos of 2017 in the US (which spilled over into many other parts of the world), something needs to change. As I wrote in any earlier rant, resistance to negative change can only take you so far. If successful, it really only maintains the status quo. Even with the small positive steps that occasionally pop up.
In 2018, we can continue to complain about what has happened in the past. Or we can plan and work to improve the future. Only one of those is worth the time and effort.
I hope we can find good people to run for leadership positions, at all levels, not just Congress, who understand this. Because real progress is only going to come from clear, creative, positive ideas for improving government and society. Not from trying to scare people. Not from asking for support simply because “I’m not that guy.”.
Maybe in this new period of time known as a year we as a society can move forward instead of ranting in place.
The picture is of sunrise over the Potomac River as seen from the Alexandria waterfront, New Year’s Day, 2012. As I recall, the temperature was much warmer that morning than it is currently.