A year –
a full rotation of the sun; a cycle through all of your seasons, and a perfectly appropriate increment of time to lapse between reflefting on the past and forming ideas for the upcoming. This occurence definitely calls for a celebration!
Champagne and fireworks for some, the banging of drums for many, the eating of 12 grapes, jumping over the tide 12 times at midnight, or the burning of things that symbolize the old year in order to make room for the new. In my opinion, you can learn a lot about a culture by observing what they choose to celebrate and the way that they do so.
Those of us on the Gregorian calendar generally celebrate on the eve of December 31st, staying awake with family and friends and shouting the seconds away until the clock goes strIke and the glasses go clink.
But this is not the only way to celebrate.
The Chinese are one of the many cultures who let the moon dictate when they will celebrate their New Year. They synchronize the second new moon after the winter solstice with the lighting of incense and the dancing with a dragon. On the 14th of April in Southeast Asian countries, they start their new cycle off by engaging in a country-wide water fight, a celebration that both cools you down during the hottest months of the year as well as cleanses you as you enter your new cycle. The Sikhs of Northern India start their cycle on the 14th of March, and see this as an ideal time to go out and perform selfless services, such as giving out food and helping neighbours with labour.
Many people around the world also have their new years day coincide with the start of a new season in their lives – the end of the droughts in the desert cultures such as the Kutchi people of Western India; the end of the rains in the wetter climates; or, for many, the beginning of their ‘spring’, where a day or two of festivities and well-wishing is their recipe for the making of a happy harvest.
This timing seems much more sensical than the way that I have been used to seeing New Year’s traditions executed in my native corner of the world, where we tend to end-up with a hangover and nothing to look forward to except for two solid months of winter.
In my present location, the only part that I took in the celebration of the masses was to clean up after it all. However, I eavesdropped and small-talked with countless individuals without being able to find out what was so new about this year.
Luckily for me, I have been writing my own calendar, on which New Year’s Eve happens to land inconspicuously on January the 28th. I am also writing my own traditions – traditions that include: disowning all of my possessions except for those which I can carry, buying a one-way ticket to a place that I have never been before, and working only for things that are greater than monetary gain.
The ball is dropping; my plane is taking off. I’ve been feeling rather festive.