The New Year: Is it worth all the fuss?

The new year is a time which is traditionally celebrated by most people. But is it really worth all the fuss?

It may seem at first that this post is a bit late.

Apart from the fact that actually it is, by the time you reach the end of it I hope you may have changed your view…

The New Year: Is it worth all the fuss?

So here we are in 2017 – we’ve clocked up another year, another notch in the calendar’s bedpost.

Happy 2017 everyone! 🙂

Fuss over the new year
Happy new year! Image credit: http://diak.tk/new-year-celebrations/

My wishes for a joyful year ahead also go to the Chinese who will celebrate the beginning of their new year (of different duration) on 28 January thanks to a lunisolar calendar and to Muslims who use a lunar calendar system who celebrated their new year last September (and who count their years from 622 AD).

The point is this: the passing of another year is arbitrary. We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, time spent at work and so on, all of which are annual milestones in our lives (funny how we refer to a temporal landmark with a spatial one…).

These are important reminders for how we spend our time (and who with), and celebrated by those who are closest to us (and I include colleagues here who may be closer in the spatial sense for more of our time than in the personal and spiritual sense). Naturally, these anniversaries are spread throughout the year.

What makes the new (solar or lunar) year celebrations different from other annual celebrations is that the date is common between us – this date means the same to everyone. My birthday, for example, is likely to be different from yours and likely to hold no significance to you. But if we follow the same calendar then 1 January is equally important for both of us.

Actually…is this date really important? New years’ resolutions might suggest so – until we read the statistic that 25% of new year resolutions by Americans are doomed to failure after just the first week, rising to 36% by the end of January. Additional sources suggest this rises to as high as 80% by the second week of February – though I’d suggest it’s unwise to compare stats from differing sites using dissimilar statistical methods and samples.

Broken new years resolutions

The point is that no matter how significant the beginning a new calendar year seems, these high fallout rates suggest that after the party, back home from Christmas holidays and the return back to work and to ‘normal life’ everything is forgotten. January 1st may as well be any other day (or date).

A twist on eternalism:

I wish it could be Christmas every day!

No-one likes Monday mornings, and equally there seem to be few people up and about at 9 am on January 1st ‘enjoying’ the bliss of the new year that they’ve just been celebrating coming in.

What gets us into such a frenzy in the first place? The Christmas spirit? The holiday season? The new year’s eve party where someone asks us what our resolution is and we feel impelled to say something ‘worthy’?

Ultimately, I’d postulate that the start of a new year calendar year means very little in real terms.

Every day is the beginning of your next year. Let’s just celebrate this by celebrating today instead! 🙂

Paul

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Header image credit: http://www.newyear.quotesms.com/

The Dutch Masters of Time

Holland. Well known for being flat, tulips, clogs, windmills and bicycles. Now add hideous table clothes and a strange idea of the English calendar!

We know and love Holland (or “the Netherlands” as the locals would have you call it) for its tulips, clogs, windmills and bicycles. And for being flat.

In an earlier post I asked What is it with Holland and time travel? Indeed, I have even witnessed time travel here, to a certain extent. Perhaps!

Holland now presents to us a new view on time, or at least our marking of its passage. A couple of days ago I saw this rack of table cloths outside a shop called “Marskramer” (“Peddlar”). It’s basically a bric-a-brac kind of a shop which sells…well. Table clothes for one thing.

"June 31" :  The Dutch idea of the English calendar?
“31 June” : The Dutch idea of the English calendar?

Much as I hate this mnemonic, it does come to mind…

“Thirty days hath September, April, June…”

Well maybe we can forgive our Dutch friends for their strange idea of the English calendar (if not for their hideous taste in table cloths). The author of the novel The Go Between, L. P. Hartley, noted the following:

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L. P. Hartley.

I think the same applies for Holland; Holland is a foreign country, and they do things very differently here.

Take counting. You know, like you might count the days in the month, for example 😉 Cavemen counted with stones, my 2 year old can manage up to 8 (she must be a computer!), so counting can’t be that tough can it?

Let’s take 123

English: “One hundred and twenty three.”
Hundreds, tens, units. Simple and logical. Easy as, literally, 1, 2, 3.

Dutch: “One hundred, three and twenty.”
Hundreds, units then back in the middle to tens. It’s all over the place. Easy as…1, 3, 2?

Then take 123,456

English: “one hundred and twenty three thousand, four hundred and fifty six.”

Dutch: “one hundred, three and twenty thousand, four hundred six and fifty.”
1, 3, 2, 4, 6, 5
Confused?!!

(Oh yes. And there’s the use of a comma in place of a decimal point!)

And telling the time. This was possible as early as 1500 BC with sundials (source: Wikipedia.) So it shouldn’t be complicated, right?

Ha! In Dutch, “Half two” means “half one”. It’s an optimistic outlook where the Dutch look forward ‘two’ the hour rather than back to the ‘one’ that’s passed. (See what I did there?! 😉 )

It’s really tricky to remember 10 minutes later when it’s embedded in a string:

English: “twenty to two”

Dutch: “ten past half two”

Are we going backwards or forwards here? Is the big hand going 10 minutes past the 6, or forward to the 2? Who knows?

I think the Dutch are surely they are the true masters of time – they’ve even come up with an extra day in June!

Paul

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