Metropole Magazine

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07 Jan Written by  Kimberly Ward

The Beauty of a New Year

There was no actual difference between December 31st 2013 and January 1st 2014; the sun rose and set on both days in exactly the same way and you looked exactly the same before you crossed over the threshold from one year to the next. All that has actually, truly changed is that when you now write today’s date you have to remember to put a 4 where the 3 had occupied for 12 months.

Somebody once described New Year’s Eve celebrations as “waiting for the world’s biggest non-event”; faux festivity over another set of 24 hours, much ado over just another day. Millions gather for the countdown, huge firework displays are timed to perfection and television cameras are set to record elated global reactions to...midnight of a new day.

Yet there’s something thrilling about entering a new year. There’s a feeling of freshness, of cleanliness, of starting over again. It’s as if all the mistakes and pain and fears and failures of the past year, of your past life even, have been forgotten, and a blank slate has been given to you on which you can write a better, happier story of your life. No matter which position we finished last year, we get to return to the starting line to restart the race, confident that we’ll run a better race this year.

The power of January 1st is the best example of humanity’s ever-hopeful bent, where anything that proclaims a new start (a new baby, a new marriage, a new job, a new home or a new school) brings with a natural hope of it ushering in something drastically different, despite experience holding overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We want to believe that things can change; we want to believe that a new date on the calendar will signal new life and promises of dreams coming true.

We look back at ‘the past,’ which was really only days and hours and minutes ago, and it takes on a sepia-coloured tinge of history and is already fading away into memory as we look forward to all the Technicolor glory 2014 will surely hold.

So we wish each other a Happy New Year and send out messages full of blessings and expectations of prospective progress in the 12 months ahead. We make New Year’s resolutions and set out our goals in our hearts and write them out on paper, and rub our hands together with glee in anticipation of what the just entered New Year could hold for us.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It is this unexplainable, irrepressible hope of transformation, of being born again once a year that separates us from the animals, this belief that one day can hold more promise than another. Hope springs eternal, and once annually too.

Since the Gregorian calendar based on Aloysius Lilius’ precepts united the world under a system of 365 days in accordance with the earth’s orbit around the sun, we have strictly adhered to its count and celebrated each new cycle of 365 days with glee.

It is a tradition borne of the indomitable human spirit to always hope for better. It gives those that need it a new lease on life and unites us all in wanting to be better versions of ourselves, for a few days into the new year at least.