Intrinsically, the reality of life shows that with the good comes the bad, and vice-versa. Hardly unique, 2008 was witness to moments woefully forgotten – soaring gas prices, global recession, further worldwide terrorism – and those eminently remembered – Fidel Castro stepping down, Michael Phelps surpassing Mark Spitz in Olympic gold, the first African-American elected U.S. President. Locally, there was no less a noteworthy mix as well – tragic, unprecedented shootings; perennial flooding and an early morning earthquake; the ongoing, remarkably hassle-free major highway overhaul. Of course, the sale of Anheuser-Busch may take precedence as the foremost local event to occur during the year. With that in mind, and although we may want some of these moments “never brought to mind” again, we should surely toast the more pleasant with “a right goodwill draught.”
Is it truly a “new” year though? According to the accepted, fairly universal Gregorian calendar, yes – the calendar turned two weeks ago. However, for those countries that still follow the “old” Julian calendar, the New Year actually starts, well, today. The Chinese New Year does not begin, typically, for another week, but may not start from then until sometime in late February. Depending on where one resides in India, the New Year could begin in March or April. Yet, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, started last September, and because the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Gregorian, Muslims celebrated Muharram (“Islamic New Year”) twice last year.
Thus, have we really rung in “the New Year”? With all the different ways to track time around the globe, it is amazing we even know the day let alone the year. Perhaps that explains, in part, why international diplomacy seems so difficult? Is the real barrier to global peace that no one knows the meeting time? Certainly, the world could use “a cup of kindness yet,” having indeed “wandered many a weary foot.”
No matter the time when one celebrates, there is the inherent hope of a fresh start at the New Year. Regrettably, it is too optimistic to believe that as one is chased away the latest will usher in only the good. Even so, it would be difficult to overcome those unforeseen, dire times without such confidence. Ultimately, we should remember what came before when looking to what is to come, because far too soon, we will face yet another year gone by. Just make certain to have your shopping done before the last second, particularly for those you may have since forgotten.
©2009 Steve Sagarra