“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier’.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
Tomorrow begins a new year! New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are two of my favourite days of the year. It’s probably because of that feeling of freshness that accompanies the thought of a new year. Rather weirdly (I now realise), I also used to be excited about the start of a new school year or term. I think I just really like fresh starts.
Interestingly, though the “New Year” was celebrated more than 4000 years ago, it was celebrated in Western cultures only from about four hundred years ago. For instance, in India, the New Year is celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaithra (Mid-April), and it’s been observed for many millennia. For instance, the Yuddhistir Shaka started around 5500BC!! I guess before New Year’s, life must have been one long drag. No wonder they called it the “Dark Ages”!
In fact, even the current date celebrated as “New Year’s Day” in the West was chosen in 153 BC by Julius Caesar. If you’re a fan of Roman and Greek mythology, you’ll be interested to know that the month January was named after the God of Doorways — Janus. He was given 2 faces — one which looked ahead to see what the New Year would bring, and the other looked backward to see what happened during the past year. You really can’t move forward if you completely ignore what happened in your past. In fact, didn’t that writer William Faulkner say, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”?
New Year’s Day is that day wherein we can all pat ourselves on the back for making it through yet another year. Some of us may still be resting on our laurels if it was a successful year. And some may still be battle-scarred if it was a tough year. Survival is a victory! But we all have something in common: we’ve pulled through it all, to be here to ring in the New Year.
The New Year represents a new beginning; a chance to start afresh with new resolutions for the New Year. Unfortunately, I’m as guilty as anyone else of conveniently forgetting those resolutions by the next week! But we’ll still make them, won’t we? Hope beats eternal, doesn’t it?
Everyone has their traditions for the new year. When we were very young, my father insisted that we be up and outside to see the “Old Year Clouds” move over and be replaced by the “New Year Clouds”. This year-end, however, we can be sure there will be dark clouds — and I’m not just referring to the monsoon-type clouds that gather every night to dump their torrents over us the next morning.
Still, there’s a special joy in counting down those last few seconds until you light off the fireworks to usher in the New Year. And then the invariable hugs, shouting and general pandemonium as everyone celebrates making it through yet another year to another year full of possibilities.
For me, I’m looking forward to finishing up Med School in Trinidad, and starting a new chapter right here in Guyana.
Have a safe and happy New Year!