Welcome another year.
But did you know that January 1 is not the original date for New Year’s Day among Christians?
Here are some fast forward facts, fellas?
In 45 bc Julius Caesar, upon the advice of the Greek astronomer Sosigenes, decided to use a purely solar calendar. This calendar, known as the Julian calendar, fixed the normal year at 365 days, and the leap year, every fourth year, at 366 days. Leap year is so named because the extra day causes any date after February in a leap year to “leap” over one day in the week and to occur two days later in the week than it did in the previous year, rather than just one day later as in a normal year. The Julian calendar also established the order of the months and the days of the week as they exist in present-day calendars.
In 44 bc Julius Caesar changed the name of the month Quintilis to Julius (July), after himself. The month Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) in honor of the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, who succeeded Julius Caesar. Some authorities maintain that Augustus established the length of the months we use today.
Did you know that Europeans in the Middle Ages observed New Year’s Day on March 25, called Annunciation Day and celebrated as the occasion on which it was revealed to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God.
But when did we start celebrating New Year in January 1, fellas?
With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, Roman Catholic countries began to celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1. Scotland accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1600; Germany, Denmark, and Sweden about 1700 and England in 1752. Traditionally the day has been observed as a religious feast, but in modern times the arrival of the New Year has also become an occasion for spirited celebration and the making of personal resolutions.
How about New Year in Christ’s birthplace?
Judaism, the religion of Israel, celebrates New Year on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri (falling in September or October) by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and on the first day alone by Reform Jews. It begins with the observance of the Ten Penitential Days.
Early peoples often made noise at the New Year to drive away demons; the Jews transformed this practice into a blowing of the horn to prefigure the moment when God would destroy the evil in the world, “blow the ram’s horn, and come with the whirlwinds.” At that moment, it is held in the “sovereignty verses,” God will be king over all the earth, as he is now king over those who accept him in a renewal of commitment.
How about the Chinese New Year, fellas?
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is determined by the lunar calendar, so festivities begin with the new cycle of the moon that falls between January 21 and February 19.
Each year is named for one of 12 symbolic animals in sequence. The animals, in their sequential order, are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.
Known as the Spring Festival in China, Tet in Vietnam, and Sol in Korea, the new year celebration is the most important and the longest of all festivals in these communities, traditionally lasting for two weeks. During this period, towns and villages are decorated with colored lanterns, floral displays and brightly colored banners emblazoned with new year greetings. Preparations traditionally begin in the home the week before the new year, when families thoroughly clean their houses to symbolically sweep away all traces of misfortune. They also pay off debts, add a new coat of red paint to doors and windowpanes, and decorate the home with flowers. To avoid bad luck, parents warn their children to be on their best behavior and to avoid the use of vulgar expressions.
In the evening before the new year, families gather for a feast of special dishes. Each dish has symbolic meaning, often signifying good luck and prosperity. At midnight, families light fireworks to attract the attention of benevolent gods and to frighten away evil spirits. The fireworks last until dawn, although celebrants may sporadically light more fireworks for the next two weeks.
On the first day of the new year, people put on new clothes to symbolize the discarding of the old year and its misfortunes. Then they take gifts to friends and relatives. The gifts usually include special rice flour cakes and fruits such as kumquats and oranges. Many adults, particularly married ones, also follow an ancient custom of giving small red packets of money (called hong bao or lai see in Chinese) to children, unmarried adults, and employees or servants.
Some years ago, one of my brothers went to Taiwan as an OFW. He noted one New Year tradition of the Taiwanese there: They would discard anything they possess and purchase new things for New Year, at least for that calendar year.
“Manong,” my younger brother wrote, “there are lots of discarded TVs, DVD players, flat irons and clothes here, just dropped off along the road. Some wise Pinoys gather them and send them to the Philippines. These ukay-ukay are still good. If you want some, just send me money for the freight for one big bundle of these stuffs and then I’ll send them home.”
“Hey brother,” I wrote back. “Why don’t you just finance the freight, then I’ll pay you here when you come home for a vacation?”
The following summer, he came home with a very big package.
True to his words, the stuffs were really there: clothes, appliances etc. etc!
The Philippines has now become the ukay-ukay capital of the world!
But Mang Maing doesn’t mind our country being called as such.
“Uka-ukay clothes are cheap, branded and sturdy, unlike some locally-made products,” he said.
Last December 31, Mang Maing bought a couple of Levi’s jeans from an ukay-ukay shop as a New Year’s gift for himself.
“People celebrate New Year with lots of food on their table. I prefer celebrating it with less food and a couple of ukay-ukay Levi’s jeans. At least, they will last for a long period of time unlike food that it will only last a day,” he said.
Life has been like this with Mang Maing through the years.
For as long as New Years keep on coming to our lives, we keep on living with the best we can for ourselves and our families.
Live long, live healthy, live wisely.
Happy 2019, fellas! #