Saturday, 6 January 2007


Being very interested in calendars and the measuring of time, I used to like being in a new year, even though I knew it wasn't particularly significant, but somehow it seems hard to ignore it's insignificance this year. I'm not sure why. It's probably relevant that the new calendar year isn't as significant here in England as it is in Sydney. The academic year started back in September. For Christmas and New Year, the schools tend to have two weeks off, while the undergraduate students had three before coming back for Semester B.

Being in London has also made it more obvious just how arbitrary the timing of "New Year" is. There are many calendars out there, including some with perhaps less arbitrary definitions of the start of the year, such as the Persian spring equinox. (Then again, the new year here does seem to vaguely coincide with when I start to notice that the days really are getting longer again!) But even ignoring other calendars, and thinking about so many people all celebrating on 1 January, I notice that either we decide the year starts at a set time in an arbitrary place (Greenwich?), or we end up we me in 2006 talking to someone in 2007, as I mentioned yesterday.

The only thing special about New Year's Day is that it is one year after the previous New Year's Day. Time and life keep going on, however our minds choose to file things. I suspect that most of us take a while to get used to the new "file" - I found myself thinking of things from August and September as "2005", because I'd somehow realised that they were now last year, without ticking my mental clock over to 2007. Some of us might enjoy noticing the first of the year. I once had a thought that rather than staying up on NYE, it might be nice to get up to welcome the year in at midnight, then stay up for the first sunrise. Some of us might feel that it is an opportunity for a fresh start, even making all sorts of resolutions. Maybe it's easier for us to focus on things like that when the year starts, and it's definitely not a worse time than any other to seek a new beginning, but don't be fooled into thinking that habits naturally have a tendency to get thrown out with the old calendars.

Apart from a bit of fun, I don't think the new year by itself brings anything other than a chance to think of things on a yearly scale. The thoughts this year brings to my mind are how little I managed to do in 2006, and have left to do now; several friends planning to get married this year; a fourth wedding anniversary; four-yearly events like the cricket World Cup; and not knowing what we'll be up to at the end of the year. New things, and old things continued, but in all of them trusting the God who makes all things new. There isn't anything special about New Year following Christmas, but new life does follow from receiving God's ultimate Christmas gift.


natto said...

4th wedding anniversary?! Wow! My warmest congrats to you and Amy!

All the best for this year. Not too long to go for your thesis, I presume? I say my best work is done at the last moment, so if you're anything like me, you'll do fine!

God bless!

Jonathan said...

Well, the anniversary isn't for quite a while, but thanks anyway.

As for my thesis, I really need to get cracking on it now! Thanks for the encouragement.