New Year’s traditions
From the desk of…
by Donald Bell, Lt. Colonel –
What I enjoy about the New Year celebration is some time off (for refreshment, renewal, reading, and relaxation), a time to celebrate tradition, to make resolutions, and to have an opportunity for a new start.
It has been said that the first New Year holiday was celebrated in Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 B.C., the Babylonian New Year began with the first new moon after the first day of spring. The Romans continued to observe the New Year in late March, but various emperors often revised their calendar so that it soon became out of synchronization with the sun. Julius Caesar, in 46 B.C., established what has come to be known as the Julian calendar, and established January 1 as the beginning of the New Year.
One tradition of the season is using the image of a baby to signify the New Year, which was begun in Greece around 600 B.C. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth. Germans brought to early America the image of a baby with a New Year’s banner as a symbolic representation of the New Year. The early church was reluctant to accept this symbol until the reference to the baby reminded them of the gift of the Christ child…a gift of new birth that represented the gift the Christ child offers to the “whosoever.”
One of the most famous traditions, viewed by millions of people around the world today, is the Tournament of Roses Parade every January 1 in Pasadena, Calif. The parade dates back to 1886. In that year, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers, which celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California. The Rose Bowl football game was first played as a part of the Tournament of Roses in 1902, but was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the football game returned as the sports centerpiece of the festival. The Salvation Army band is the longest continuously marching band in the history of the parade, and provides a witness around the world of the work of the Army. This year, bands from the Southern California Division were supported by the Territorial Youth Band and youth representatives from the music forces of every state in the nation.
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions also dates back to the early Babylonians. The early Babylonians’ most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. Here are some of my favorite resolutions, gleaned from the Internet:
“Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.” ~Author Unknown
“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.” ~Benjamin Franklin
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~Hal Borland
“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” ~Oprah Winfrey
“Ring out the old, ring in the new; ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go; ring out the false, ring in the true.”
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850
“Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called ‘Opportunity’ and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce
“Glory to God in highest heaven, who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth, a glad New Year to all the earth.” ~Martin Luther
“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.” ~John Burroughs
“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ~Ellen Goodman
There is much to reflect upon in these simple, yet profound thoughts. As you begin this New Year in service to our Savior, may you reflect upon the traditions of the day, and as you write your own resolutions, be reminded of God’s word in Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. May God bless and use you in 2008.