With Christmas, it’s all about anticipation of the great day, vast commercialism, the endless debate about whether or not it is a religious or a pagan festival, then getting bored for several days with eating, drinking, presents, families and TV.
But then comes New Year, which seems to polarise opinion even more sharply. The Scots celebrate Hogmanay to see out the old and welcome the new, but more friends I speak to seem to be cynical about the whole concept. An excuse for a piss-up, they say; people make resolutions then break them the following week; what’s the point?
The other factor of course is that what comprises the start of a New Year depends entirely on which calendar you’re following. Thus, from Wikipedia:
It was only relatively recently that 1 January became the first day of the year in Western culture. Upto 1751 in England and Wales (and all the British King’s dominions) the new year started on 25 March – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days (the change to 1 January took place in 1600 in Scotland). Since then, 1 January has been the first day of the year. During the Middle Ages several other days were the first (1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, 25 December)
Everywhere you look, New Year is different. The Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in countries with a Chinese community, though the link above demonstrates a myriad of different times at which this celebration arises, depending on where you happen to be.
Shame then that the principle has become sullied. To me, a New Year represents a threshold, an opportunity to start anew, a metaphor on which to hang essential changes to lifestyle and action. A friend pointed out that you can and should change at whatever point in the year that change is appropriate. True, I replied, but the end of an old year is a symbolic way to draw a line and to be a new person in whatever way seems most appropriate.
So here goes – what changes should I be implementing in 2012? Not that these will all constitute resolutions, you note, but there are as I write 33 hours left of 2011 to determine which should be binding contractual requirements and which quietly forgotten:
- Finish novel no 2 and get at least one of them published, in print.
- Find some good, consistent professional work to fund my lifestyle while (1) is in progress!
- Support and inspire my kids to even greater success
- Make more effort with my garden, and repair the leaky summerhouse
- Travel when possible where possible
- Find a steady but thrilling relationship and put an end to heartache
- Lose weight and get fit
- Find a good role to act in, but not just yet!