Well, here it is the end of another year. It seems odd to me that we put such a focus on the arbitrary passage of our globe past a randomly selected point in its orbit. Why the importance on it?
The other day I was reminded that, as infrequently as we may think about it, there are places in the world that do not put any significance on this day. I was talking the other day to one of my colleagues in my company’s Tel Aviv office. Until he mentioned that he would be working tomorrow it really hadn’t occurred to me (frequently if, indeed, at all) that there are places in the world that do not really follow the Gregorian Calendar.
“You’re working this Sunday? Don’t you get New Year’s Day off?” I asked.
“It isn’t the start of a new year here.” Came his response.
I guess that I knew that Rosh Hashanah was the Jewish New Year, but I had never considered that as a being a civil observance, simply a religious one. I think of this now, as I write this because it really does seem arbitrary that we have chosen this meaningless point in our orbit to mean something significant.
I can more easily see accepting the significance of the Winter Solstice - the date on which the nights begin getting shorter; or the Summer Solstice – the date on which the nights start getting longer. I can even see the significances of either of the two Equinoxes; any of these have an observable celestial configuration and significance on the planning of social and agrarian activities, but why this seemingly random date?
I’ve heard from friends that claim to know that it may be because of its proximity to Christmas, but even that doesn’t ring true. Christmas itself is an arbitrary date – the Catholic church used a lunar calendar for centuries basing the date of Christmas in its relationship to the Solstice. It wasn’t until the Gregorian Calendar Reform of the later part of the 16th century that the date came to be set at December 25th.
Even so, I have bought into the habit of becoming pensive at this time of year. Where am I now? Where was I a year ago? Where do I hope to be in another year – these are all questions that I ponder this time each year.
My year has been a good one. I have gotten lots of time to spend with my family, done quite a bit of travel, and have, on the balance, and had a happy year. My goal for 2012 is to make it an even better year. I would say “the best year of my life,” but that is a pretty tall order in what has been a pretty good ride to-date. Or as Joe Walsh put it so eloquently in his song of the same title:
“Life’s been good to me so far!”
Wherever you are today I hope that your 2011 has been an excellent year and wish you a safe and happy New Year’s celebration!