Friday, August 5 2022

A weary world looks to a new year. New Year celebrations are usually a time to reflect on the past year as news organizations replay the best stories of the previous year and poke fun at the year’s failed predictions as millions return about their experiences of the previous year and reflect on their expectations for the coming year.

The year 2022 will be marked by many things, including February 22, one day, which will happen to be a Tuesday and which will both be: 22/2/22. Millions of people will make New Year’s resolutions, some will be kept and some will fall through.

Bridges

The most common resolutions for 2021 were: lose weight/get fit, save more money, travel more, make new friends, and find a new/better job. Public opinion polls on New Year’s resolutions for 2022 aren’t all that different: get in shape, spend more time with loved ones, and save money.

New Year celebrations date back thousands of years as ancient peoples recognized the regular changing patterns of the stars at night and the sun during the day and their connection to particular seasons. Many ancient cultures marked the winter solstice, December 21, as the start of the year as the days began to lengthen and spring approached.

In some societies, the vernal equinox, the start of spring in March, was considered the start of the year as well as the time to start planting. The Babylonians were known as early as 2600 BC. to mark the day with celebrations and New Year’s resolutions.

The first observances of January 1 for the start of the year began with the Romans around 713 BC. The Romans named January the first month of their lunar calendar year after the Roman god Janus, who was believed to be the god of time and also the god of beginnings and transitions. According to legend, Janus had two faces, one looking back and the other looking forward, reflecting the Romans looking back and looking forward with New Year’s rejoicing.

During the Middle Ages, New Year celebrations were largely discarded in favor of religious observances, such as Christmas. Pope Gregory XIII reinstated January 1 as the official New Year celebration in 1582. In most countries around the world, January 1 is an official holiday to mark the start of the new year. Even many non-Western countries will observe January 1 as New Year’s Day.

The Chinese New Year, however, will not begin until February 1. According to the centuries-old Chinese zodiac system, 2022 will mark the Year of the Tiger. The year 2021 was the year of the ox, a symbol of strength; and 2020 was the year of the rat, an animal known as a trickster in Chinese mythology. In China, the tiger is a symbol of strength, bravery and independence. In China, fireworks are set off to mark the New Year and also to scare away demons and dark forces. Variations on these New Year’s traditions are found in South Korea, Japan, and Cambodia.

Similarly, February 1 will also mark the traditional Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet. The Vietnamese lunar calendar is very similar to the Chinese calendar. By tradition, a big holiday is prepared, family gatherings are held, and many celebrations are held in the cities of the country. Many in Vietnam also regard Tet as the start of spring. House cleaning is also part of the traditional observances to symbolically cleanse evil spirits from the previous year.

In Orthodox Christian nations, the Julian calendar is still used for religious observances. According to this calendar, the new year does not begin before February 14. This is most commonly seen in countries like Russia and Ukraine.

Different types of food are also associated with New Year celebrations. In India, rice is eaten for prosperity in the New Year. In parts of Europe and the United States, leafy green vegetables such as spinach are considered by many to be a symbol of money and prosperity for the new year. In the southern United States, black-eyed peas are eaten for good luck. In Turkey, pomegranates are eaten for good luck as a symbol of life and fertility.

There are many other superstitions for luck surrounding the celebrations. In France, the weather on New Year’s Day is supposed to be an omen of the weather of the year. In Denmark, unused pâtés are smashed against doors to ward off bad luck. Brazilians wear white for good luck.

To this day, New Year’s Day is still a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the days ahead. And the world is hoping for a carefree year in 2022. A calendar full of possibilities awaits.

Ken Bridges is a writer, historian and native Texan. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. Bridges can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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