Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Rears!

New Year’s feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” (Bill Murray’s character would wake up and have to relive the day over and over and over again.) New Year’s is much like that. We’ll all make the same resolutions – lose weight, better work-life balance, get out of debt, blah, blah, blah.

The Gregorian calendar changeover from one year to the next has become the secular time to reflect on the year past and plan on the year to come. For Christians Advent is the start of the liturgical year. The Jewish tradition reflects from Rosh Hashanah through the High Holy Days culminating in the New Year at Yom Kippur, is the day of atonement.

I’m a cradle-to- grave (eventually)Episcopalian and currently am active with an Anglo-Catholic parish that celebrates weekly with ancient liturgy in a welcoming inclusive environment. I particularly relish our major liturgical periods of Advent and Easter. I’ve always admired the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur. I’m not much for fasting – a key component of Yom Kippur as well as Lent. Given my (weekly) resolution to lose weight I perhaps should look into fasting! It’s really remarkable to spend 25 hours praying; atoning for the year past and make vows and oaths for the year to come. The December 31 to January 1 change-over in the U.S. is more about Auld Lang Syne, champagne and a mechanical ball drop than atonement.

The celebration of the secular New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
Retailers would love to revive that Roman tradition: more gifts! We may just have to settle for after-Christmas sales and pre-Valentine’s Day buying opportunities. As the calendar turns, so change merchandising plans, something new and fresh always on the horizon.

2011 will start much as 2010 ends. California is under water: literally and figuratively. The Federal Government continues to operate without a budget but instead authorizes spending at prior year levels...which guarantees a $1.5 trillion deficit without anybody actually agreeing to it. The United States is engaged in two wars that are killing thousands of soldiers and civilians. Unemployment is steady at around 10%, though some experts believe it’s nearly double that. Foreclosures are rising. Mighty depressing, eh? I’ve got it backwards…I’ve delivered the hang-over before the party has started. My bad.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I do hope that the New Year is bright and fresh. My “status” a year ago was “Good Riddance 2009.” I didn’t really think that 2010 could be worse, but it was. Buh-bye 2010, you’ve really been awful. So let’s try this again! May all of our 2011’s be full of promise, prosperity and peace for all.

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