On New Year’s Eve, the clock strikes midnight and a new day starts. And that’s about it. I was about 10 years old the first time I was allowed to stay up to watch the ball drop, and I was sorely disappointed. The adults kissed, sipped champagne that no one wanted, turned off the TV, and ushered us kids up to bed. Happy New Year.
People in a variety of lunar-based religions and cultures around the world ring in a new year at different times, and follow different calendars that track different years. The Jewish new year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, takes place in the month of Tishrei (usually September or October) and this year we welcomed 5776. The Islamic calendar has changed a bit in recent years, but the new year often falls in October or November. Chinese New Year usually falls in January or February, and this year will be the Year of the Monkey.
However, most people live their daily lives on the solar Gregorian calendar, which has decided that December 31 is New Year’s Eve and that 2016 begins on January 1. Parts of the Western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582; it replaced the Julian calendar, reforming leap years, leap days, and certain Christian holiday observances. As with any change, switching to the Gregorian calendar did not happen over night. Europe’s majority Catholic countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal) were the first adopters, with China waiting until the revolutions settled down in 1929. And because of time zones, we all ring in the new year at different times over a period of 26 hours. Yes, 26. Because not all countries have daylight savings time. Samoa and Christmas Island are the first countries to enter 2016 and most of the US Minor Outlying Islands are the last.*
As I wait for 2016 to cross over into Eastern Standard Time, I generally like to think about what I’ve done over the course of the past year, as well as what I hope to do in the coming year. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I’m stubborn and make commitments to myself on a regular basis (and then, because I’m stubborn, actually follow them). That being said, I have goals. While I’m not going to share them on my blog, I will write them down in my journal so they’re documented for the sake of progeny.
In the meantime, today is just another day – with a big party and a whole lot of glitter at the end.
*The information in this paragraph comes from this website. (I am forever reminding my students to cite their sources and feel guilty when I don’t do the same.)