Does New Year really exist?
Sean M. Carroll, a research professor in physics at the California Institute of Technology writes that when Albert Einstein’s good friend Michele Besso died in 1955, just a few weeks before Einstein’s own death, Einstein wrote a letter to Besso’s family in which he put forward a scientist’s consolation: “This is not important. For us who are convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”
This “timeless” view of the universe goes against our usual thinking that there really is no specific new year at all as Einstein and other physicist view it.
But who cares, fellas?
The more challenging question is: Is New Year new?
Well, it has been here since we were born, but unknown to many of us, it is older than we think. It dates back some 4,000 years ago or around 2,000 BC in ancient Babylon to herald the 1st new moon after the vernal equinox. Vernal equinox is the time when the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are of equal length, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere which is around March 21 and in the southern hemisphere around September 23. The holiday celebrated the mythical victory of the sky god Marduk over the sea goddess Tiamat and also involved the act of either crowning a new king or allowing the old king to continue his rule and was celebrated with a huge 11-day festival called Akitu, which involved a different ritual on each of its days.
So, you see, it is not originally celebrated in January 1, fellas.
But when did New Year become January 1?
Throughout time, different cultures and civilizations typically welcomed the new year during a significant astronomical or agricultural event — like the Romans who celebrated in March, following their lunar cycle — until 46 B.C., when the emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. Honoring the month’s namesake Janus — the Roman god of beginnings whose two faces allowed him to look simultaneously into the past and the future — Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year. On this newly-dated holiday, the Romans celebrated not only by offering sacrifices to Janus, but also by exchanging gifts, attending parties, and decorating their homes with laurel branches.
Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the New Year and watching fireworks displays.
Did you know that in order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar.
But again, who cares if those who made our calendar manipulated it for their own (and our own) convenience, fellas?
Now, how about 2020? What’s all about 2020? Year 2020 (MMXX) will be a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2020th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 20th year of the 3rd millennium, the 20th year of the 21st century, and the 1st year of the 2020s decade.
How about New Year’s resolutions?
The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
Got plans to lose weight, eat healthier or save more money? If these or any other New Year’s resolutions are on your list, you’re in good company because you are taking part in a goal-driven tradition that has emerged in different forms throughout history.
In 2018, 44 percent of respondents in a national survey said they planned to make resolutions for 2019, according to a poll. The most popular resolutions were to “be a better person” (12 percent of respondents) and to lose weight (also 12 percent). Exercising more, eating healthier and getting a better job had a three-way tie with 9 percent each.
So, what are we all wishing for in 2020? Here are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions according to a survey of 2,000 people:
1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
2. Exercise more (65 percent)
3. Lose weight (54 percent)
4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
7. Read more (17 percent)
8. Find another job (16 percent)
9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)
10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)
Are any of these resolutions on your personal list, fellas?
Why not make yours too or adopt some of the resolutions above for better health and life?
Life is too short to live and it always pays to follow simple resolutions to live it to the fullest.
And why not? Happy New Year everyone! ●