Sunday, September 11, 2011

The new year begins when?

Around the world people celebrate the arrival of a new year on January 1. It seems to be a shared truth that this date marks the beginning of a new year full of opportunity and possibility.  But is it?  Does a new year begin then?  Maybe the beginning of the new year is a matter of choice.  Is that possible?

For my friend Barb Sullivan September 1 marks the beginning of a year.  Just a days ago she began a new year that she’s calling her Year of Opportunities (it is year long sabbatical from her position as Chief of Protocol for the City of Toronto).  In the first post on the blog created to chronicle her experiences she wrote about her idea that September 1 starts a new year ( Reading her post led me to think about the possibility that the beginning of a new year can vary, be a personal choice of both date and way to celebrate.

Of course we all have birthdays that mark the passage of a year, hence a new year begins for each of us on that date, the anniversary of our birth.  But must that be our personal New Year?  Many of us chose to celebrate Chinese New Year as well as the January 1 New Year and for some of us Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, is the most meaningful of the celebrations. 

As I thought this idea I realized nations have “birthdays” which begin new years for the country and its people.  These birthdays or National days or Independence Days which are marked by special celebrations.  If you’re in the US, Independence day (July 4 ) is a day for picnics and fireworks.  In 2011 Eritrea’s independence celebration included a beauty pageant.  Chile has a week of celebrations that include Chilean cowboy music and fiesta partias (patriotic parties). (  South Sudan will celebrate the first anniversary of its independence on July 9, 2012 with the form of the celebration yet to be revealed.

Each country has a special way to celebrate but all share one common practice, something that’s important for a traveler to know.  On independence day wherever you are, many businesses will be closed.  The dates vary.  Before you plan a trip its useful to find out if  Independence day that will be observed during your visit.  (  Avoid surprises, enjoy the festivities.

All in all there are many days that can be counted as the beginning of a new year.  Follow tradition or create one of your own.  Will you begin a new year once in a calendar year or multiple times?  The decision can be yours. 

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