Saturday, January 5, 2013

The New Year: History, Hope, and New Beginnings

Our sentiments for the New Year have always been the same since mankind started celebrating it –people strive to stick to their New Year’s resolutions and then stop doing so by February or right after the spirit of the holidays dissipate.

 In 1729, Bach called for protection from plague through one of his compositions, he called for joy and good health too among other things but thousands of years before that, New Year’s Day was never celebrated at all not until the Mesopotamians in 2000 BC started celebrating it during the vernal equinox. This celebration was in mid-March and not January. Various ancient cultures also celebrated something similar to that of the March New Year of the Mesopotamians. The Egyptians and Persians for example, celebrated New Year during fall while their Greek counterparts had feasts during the winter solstice.

In the early Roman Calendar, March 1st is the New Year since it was the first month of the year. One has to note that in Latin, the word decem means ten, novem is nine, octo of course as one would surmise means eight while septem is seven. It was only in 153 BC when Romans started celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1st  with January and February added to the calendar hundreds of years before. It was only during Julius Caesar’s time that January 1st was officially installed as New Year’s Day though. 

It is interesting to note however that in the Middle Ages, this celebration was abolished because it is unchristian. Various times, various places, different celebrations -it all became confusing after that until of course the appearance of the Gregorian Calendar and January 1st was restored as New Year’s Day. Enough with the trivia.

So here we are, another new year, another new beginning. Why is the New Year so important? The New Year or New Year’s Day at the very least is the mark of new beginnings - the very reason why different cultures seem to practice listing New Year’s resolutions. This doesn’t mean though that one should forget years past as Auld Lang Syne brought to our attention or brings to our attention each time it is sang.

While some cultures celebrate the New Year without having to subject their ears to any type of hearing loss, in the Philippines, it seems to be a requirement along of course with bloodshed and a tinge of gore –in various Philippine hospitals at least.

While New Year’s Day is a mark of a new page, new chapter, new beginning whatever one would prefer to call it, it is impossible to welcome the New Year without a hint of doubt and fear. The awful truth is that we are afraid of change –at least according to a number of experts. 

Change however can be wonderful but still, all we can do is hope for the best while doing our best to make 2013 a better year for all of us.

Happy New Year from the Diliman Diary!

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