A New Year is enticing with its promise of fulfilled hopes and dreams, its allure of brighter times ahead, its rush of enthusiasm for new ventures. The psychologic appeal of sending off the old year also provides a sense of closure and permission to move on from the past. Then, as the months march on and the newness of the year fades into the grind of daily life, it’s easy to lose the exhilaration of starting something new and to settle into familiar monotony. Growing up in SE Asia helped me avoid this trap.
One to two months after New Year’s Day (according to the lunar calendar) would be the Chinese New Year, which–sensibly–lasts 14 days instead of a miserly one day. Around that time is also Thaipusam, a Tamil festival in honor of Murugan during which devotees perform sacrificial acts to pay karmic debts and ensure a year of health and spiritual purity. A few months after would be Easter and Qingming and the celebration of Eid, all festivals of remembrance and rebirth. There was always some country or group celebrating their New Year: Buddhist New Years in different SE Asian countries, various Indian New Years, Islamic New Year–you get the picture. There was always a chance to start anew, and you didn’t have to wait till January 1st.
This meant that making resolutions was a lark–it only had to last until the upcoming New Year (usually a month or two away!) I learned that you could pretty much start again at any point in time and that June 24th was as good as September 5th. As I grew older I realized that you had a fresh start every day and that was soooo liberating!
So while I still love January 1st, I’ve come to cherish every morning as an opportunity to recreate myself. With age comes redaction. Instead of New Year’s Day, I now celebrate every New Day.
Happy New Day to you!