Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I wonder if your feelings on New Year's Eve are similar to mine? As the old year creeps and creaks its way to an exhausted conclusion, I find myself awaiting the new version with a sense of hope and relief.
By the end of December I'm badly in need of a new year. Three hundred and sixty-five days are as much as I can cope with in one session.

I suppose it's illogical to have this concept of a new beginning. After all, what is a New Year? Nothing more than a date on a calendar, a man-made invention.
True, the cycle of the year is dictated by the movement of our solar system, but, other than the summer and winter solstices indicating a pause for reflection, there is nothing to indicate when a new year should start.

It is characteristic of English caution in such matters that we were late in joining the January 1st enthusiasts. Early in the sixteenth century, Venice, Sweden and The Holy Roman Empire were the first to opt for January 1st as their choice for New Year's Day. They were soon to be followed by Holland, France and Norway, whilst Scotland joined the club fifty years later. The English, who preferred to start their year on March 25th, stuck to their chosen date for a further two centuries. Only in 1752 did we come in from the cold and join the majority of Europe in their New Year celebrations.

In our globalised world, it's hard to imagine anything other than uniformity over the date of the New Year. Fiscal and educational reasons alone make it imperative. But, as I see it, the emotional need outweighs all others.
To be given a whole new year . . . twelve unblemished months . . . an empty book with three hundred and sixty-five blank pages . . . it's a priceless gift.

Not only that, it's a chance to draw a line under the difficulties and worries of the year that has come to a close. It's a time to take stock, to make resolutions . . . all right, I know we don't necessarily keep them, but the act of considering and making a resolution is a valuable exercise in itself. A New Year, a new chance, a new opportunity, a new beginning.

From every point of view, social, economic and environmental, 2011 was a roller-coaster of a journey. What is 2012 waiting to teach us? Time alone will tell. But, as of this moment, it's virgin territory with unlimited potential . . . who could ask for more?

So, let's take a deep breath . . . hold hands . . . trust in the cosmic, evolutionary plan . . . and, as pioneers, step forward into the unknown.

Happy New Year!