Yippee Dippy. Is it that big of a deal?
Each New Year’s Eve, major cities around the world conduct extravagant celebrations, complete with sizable security forces containing our exuberance, as gazillions of us count off the seconds to cheer, amid lavish fireworks, for what exactly? Another one of earth’s full trips around the sun. It’s only happened a few billion times before.
We owe celebrating January 1 as the start of a new year to Julius Caesar. So, first of all, cheers to Señor Julius. Pope Gregory XIII managed, several hundred years ago, to change the Julian calendar to what is now the Gregorian calendar. Fortunately for festivity seekers, Greg kept Jan 1 as the new year marker. But really the date is arbitrary. It could have been any day marking the end/beginning, an equinox or a solstice perhaps. In fact, the Chinese, Islam, Jewish, Hindus, all have their own version of New Year.
Whatever the date, why is it celebrated so grandly? Not that I’m against celebrations. By all means, excuses to party, organize festivities, and kiss one another at the dong of midnight is dandy. It beats the hell out of punching each other or wallowing in pity parties. But the commemoration of New Year seems so, well, goofy. The greeting Happy New Year, while I’m jazzed to receive and give, rings a tad hollow. A Happy Birthday wish is pointed directly to someone and has potential significance. But Happy New Year? It’s not the earth’s birthday. Besides, we say this to each other and Earth already has its day on April 22.
So what is it about this self-created mirage that only has meaning in our imagination? What instigates us to watch a clock strike 12 with such zeal? It’s not really about the earth orbit, even though it is. Are we cheering the fact that another year is history? Hurray, we’ve just completed another tax year? Yippee, we get to start measuring goals again for another year? Wahoo, this past year could have been better, thank god it’s over? Yahoo, we are all one year closer to death? Yay, a fresh number and new calendar are awesome?
Sure, it’s nice giving and receiving a special greeting to those we know and don’t know. But it begs the question why it couldn’t happen more often. Why not celebrate the dawn of each day, a full rotation of the earth’s axis? Imagine, 365 mini-celebrations during the year. If that is too often what about full moons? Lunar cycles occur monthly. Twelve annual New Moon celebrations seem healthy. But I suppose we have enough annual celebrations, like birthdays, (our own and lots of dead people), special love and friendship days, sacred days, independence days, idolized people days, labor days, and the like. Maybe one full sun orbit by the earth is often enough to celebrate something celestial.
In all fairness, we homo sapiens grew enamored with counting, measuring, and creating big moments. We love making hubbubs around cyclical events — finishing one thing & planning something new. We are on a mission — looking back in contemplation and forward with fresh plans. Kind of romantic.
To be clear, I’m not against getting cranked up that our earth completes another rotation around the sun, as long as we understand that it’s a form of galactic worship. For that, I’m belting forth a big rip-roarin yahoo and happy happy. And hugs and kisses for everyone.
Full Disclosure: Last evening, New Year’s Eve, I went out in search of a celebratory engagement of intelligent conversation in one of the few bar/restaurants where westerners frequent. But I was choked out by excessive cigarette smoking revelers, so I returned home where I unceremoniously popped a bottle of wine and toasted the earth before jumping into bed and falling into dreamland sometime before the stroke of midnight.