There is something exciting about the concept of a “new year” and its connotations of wonderful possibilities, starting over, and righting wrongs, and all that happy sappy jazz.
In the Gregorian calendar, January first is the starting of a new year. In other calendars and cultures, the new year starts on different dates, usually based on the lunar cycle. The Chinese new year date varies but the date falls anywhere from late January to mid-February (this year, it is on February 19th). The Islamic calendar started its new year, also known as Muharram, in October, 2014 and the next new year celebration will be in October, 2015. Rosh Hashanah is the name of the Jewish new year and according to the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, the last new year started in September, 2014 and the next new year will be in September, 2015. The pagan new year is not as easy to pin down. For many, the celebration of Samhain (aka Halloween) is the start of the new year. For others, Beltain (aka May Day) is the day to celebrate the beginning of the year. Interestingly enough, those dates are opposites depending on which hemisphere of the earth you are in (in the southern hemisphere Samhain is May 1 and Beltain is October 31). There are also those who celebrate the new year at the winter solstice which is also known as Yule. The Julian calendar puts the new year in mid-January. The Buddhist Songkran is celebrated in mid-April. Regardless of when YOU celebrate and acknowledge a new year, the focus is on saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. It represents a sacred liminal space, a doorway, a crossing point into the beginning.
USING THE CELEBRATION
For many cultures, a new year is cause for celebration, partying, parades, visiting loved ones, giving gifts, preparing and eating special foods/beverages, and sometimes making resolutions and wishing luck and happiness to each other. It’s a time for making plans, starting projects, initiating positive changes. What new year date/s do you acknowledge/celebrate? How do you make the new year new for YOU? Is it a time of quiet introspection and making resolutions? Is it a time for social connection and shared celebration? Maybe a better question is how do you WANT to make the new year meaningful for you? Paper hats and confetti? Champagne? Fasting? Shared meals? Meditation? Creating a vision board or goals list? Being of service to others? Displaying certain symbols? Participating in family or community rituals? Something else…?
The beauty is that YOU get to choose! Celebrate one, a few, or all of them! Take a look at yourself… your identity. Does your internal experience of who you are resonate as authentic and “right” for you? Is there dissonance between how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself? Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are by default associated with certain cultures, groups. Geography, religion, race, ethnicity, age, developmental phase of life, abilities, limitations, likes, dislikes, fashions, laws, and general circumstances all play into which culture/s you may be in right now. Even if up until this moment you did not think you had much choice in the matter, RIGHT NOW, I am telling you you DO have choice. Look inside yourself. Do you feel joy in your current situation? Do you feel like you fit in and “belong”? Have the niggling feeling that something’s missing? Feeling lost? Confused? Depressed? Isolated? Strong? Peaceful? Content? What’s going ON in there? I propose that you do some writing or expressive art to communicate what you find during your introspection and notice your response or reaction to what you find. Is it all good? Yee HAW, time to celebrate!! Are there some glitches or persistent pain? Yee HAW, time to make new choices!
WHAT’S THE POINT?
One of the most pressing existential questions in human history: what’s the point? Why are we here? (Well don’t look at ME for your answer! I don’t know!!) However, I propose that for each individual, the answer may be simple… and/or complex. The simple answer: we are here to EXPERIENCE. More simple: we are here to love, create joy, solve problems, touch hearts, grow, heal, celebrate, dance, sing, laugh, hug, play, be of service, make decisions, care for each other, and to learn. I think it gets complex when we press for a specific (and often grandiose) answer such as how to leave a lasting legacy, build permanent monuments, invent something of great import, discover major clues to life, the universe, and everything, end war, world hunger, disease, and evil… you know, all that big history book stuff. I suggest that unless you have a compelling and clear drive toward one of those complex reasons, focus on the simple. Use this new year to keep your reason/s for being here simple: learn something, reach out to someone, let yourself experience being really present in the moment, to take in the magic of being in a body on the earth right now. Maybe the point of being here is to learn how to get through difficulties and accept help so that you are equipped to support the next person dealing with similar difficulties. And these are just a few suggestions. The brilliant bit is that YOU GET TO CHOOSE!
Whatever your new year celebration date/s, I wish you the capacity to receive love, the consciousness to make choices that feel good to you, and as many moments of joy as you can cram into a year.