Prime Time: New Year variations are memorable
You must have heard the greeting "Happy New Year" a hundred times in the last week or more.
We say it glibly and cheerily, but is it more than just a casual routine of the season?
There are many ways in which the January change to a newly numbered year is not really a new beginning for many of us. For young kids, and often for their parents as well, the new year begins in September with the start of the school year. For some it is in June when a different routine for the summer months begins. It could be any time in the year if one is beginning a new job, moving to a new town or beginning a marriage.
The original tradition of the names of the months and the choice of the first month has a long history that is relatively unknown to most of us today. In fact, the name of our first month came from the name of the God Janus and its root is the Roman word for door. March was originally the first month of the year in the old Roman calendar, but January became the first month around 153 BC.
In our part of the world, we associate the new year with the coldest and darkest days of winter. A few winters spent in the South reminded me that our shivers at the thought of January are not shared by people closer to the equator. The winter Mother and I spent in California when I was nine somehow seemed strange and almost unreal having 70 degree days for Christmas and New Year's. I thought it was fun but weird to go to the beach on Christmas Day, but it was perfectly normal to my fifth-grade classmates. We are truly creatures of habit in many respects including our expectations of weather and the clothes we associate with late fall and winter.
One annoyance that I believe affects almost everyone is getting the new date right in routine tasks. How many checks and letters do we write in January and perhaps even in early February where we have to change the date we have used automatically?
The evening before the new year begins is considered a time for various kinds of parties and celebrations. Unfortunately, these often lead to people driving after considerable drinking and ending up in accidents or with costly tickets handed out by highway patrol troopers that are vigilant on that night.
For years, this has not been a problem for us and our neighbor friends. We have spent that evening together for many years, not always making it to actual midnight, as we got older.
Often we said goodnight when the ball dropped in New York.
But this year it was midnight here when we said Happy New Year, and they put on their snow boots to walk home. It was just great.
Happy New Year to all of you, too!