New Years: Why All the Fuss?

Dear Everyone Who Celebrates New Years,

I would like to remind my Western readers that January 1 is just one of a LOT of possible New Years. England had its new year on March 25 until 1751, and Muslims do not start 2014 until October 24! So calm down, people–the world hasn’t changed because a clock hand ticked one millimeter sideways. Or a bunch of millimeters if we mean Big Ben.

I prefer to celebrate on days that are truly meaningful to me as an individual and that are not borrowed from any mass culture: birthdays, personal anniversaries of some sort, historical or literary milestones, and other occasions of joy or remembrance. If people need a new year as a motive to reinvent themselves, then they have bigger problems than a Western-centric worldview, and they need every symbol of hope we can muster. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating culturally specific holidays; I enjoy the time off work, and I’d rather celebrate birthdays than shraadh or giỗ. But as for welcoming the new year with drunken midnight revelries, I, like Bartleby, would prefer not to.

Fair fortune be yours,

Michael Rodriguez

Baby New Year chases 1905 into the history books

Baby New Year chases 1905 into the history book (silly classic cartoon by John T. McCutcheon)

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