Opinion: New years, how about a new date?


New Year’s has never been high on my list of holidays. I know there are people out there who love nothing more than ringing out the old and ringing in the new, but I’m not among them. Maybe my ringer’s busted.

Most years I’ve had my glass of celebratory ginger ale and made my way to bed long before the celebratory ball drops at Times Square and the celebratory gunfire begins in my neighborhood. I’m not exactly Mr.-Wild-And-Crazy-Kiss-At-Midnight-Party-Animal, is what I’m trying to say.

I guess I just have too many issues, beginning with the fact that New Year’s had always seemed kind of arbitrary to me. Who decided Jan. 1 ought to commence the year? Did they take a vote? Why wasn’t I notified? Isn’t this unconstitutional? Didn’t the Founding Fathers have something to say about this? Like I said, issues.

Given the chance, I would argue for a New Year’s that made more sense. For example, if it has to be this time of year, why not start it on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year? You know, start small and work your way up to the rest of the year.

Or how about the day after the winter solstice? Let the days dwindle down until the very last one when we’re only getting a few hours of daylight, and then presto! We turn the calendar and they start getting long again. Happy New Year.

Even better, why not start the year with the spring equinox? That would be a nice, fresh beginning. The old year dies with winter and then voila! The new year comes in all sweet and green and lovely.

Now, of course, I realize my ideas wouldn’t work for the following reasons:

1. They don’t take into account the Southern Hemisphere. Our winter solstice is their summer solstice. We can’t very well have the two halves of the earth in different years, can we? It’s weird enough the way it is now, with all those Australian bathtub drains that swirl the wrong way, and all those different stars in the Brazilian sky.

2. We can’t start the year with spring in this state because this is Indiana, and we’re usually good for a blizzard or two well after the equinox. The whole idea with spring was to get New Year’s away from that kind of weather.

Besides, our January New Year isn’t the only one on the calendar, not by a long shot. These new years are scattered all over the calendar but, through them all runs a common thread of reflection and renewal. And no matter when it happens, that is a good step, I think, toward making any New Year a happy one.



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