‘And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from' – TS Eliot
The end of Dec 31 marks the end of the year 2022 and the beginning of the New Year 2023. People, in many countries, all over the world celebrate Jan 1 as the beginning of the New Year.
Interestingly, the Romans derived the name for the month of January from their god Janus, who had two faces, one looking backwards and the other forward. It symbolises the end and beginning, among a few other symbolic meanings.
New Year's Day is observed on Jan 1, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar. The earliest recorded festivities of a New Year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years in ancient Babylon.
A number of countries use calendars that begin the new year on different dates. Many countries celebrate both Jan 1 and a traditional new year.
The most popular New Year’s tradition, since 1907, is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. It signifies the exact moment at which the New Year begins and draws large crowds. Other common customs worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the New Year.
There are many interesting New Year's traditions around the world. In Scotland, New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay which is a popular custom with people visiting friends and neighbours' houses just after midnight. The first person who visits brings a gift as this means good luck. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and some other Central and South American countries, people wear special underwear of different colours on New Year's Eve. Red is supposed to bring love and yellow is to bring money.
Symbolic food is often part of the festivities. In Spain, it’s the custom to eat 12 grapes on 31 December. One grape is eaten at each sound of the bell; each grape is supposed to bring good luck for each month of the year ahead. Many Europeans eat cabbage or other greens to ensure prosperity in the coming year. Throughout Asia, special food such as dumplings, noodles, and rice cakes are eaten for long life, happiness, wealth, and good fortune.
Though Bangladesh has its own Bangla New Year ‘Pohela Boishakh’ on 1 April, Bangladeshis also celebrate the New Year with zest and splendour. They get dressed up to attend parties, eat special food and make resolutions for the new year.
The years 2020 and 2021 shook the world with COVID -19 pandemic that turned the world upside down. The ways of doing business and education changed dramatically. Our personal lives also had a roller coaster ride with isolations, lockdowns, deaths, heartaches, loss, fears, and failures. Amid these, we also had some beautiful moments to cherish. Human beings are indomitable. With the vaccine and preventive measures, we overcame quite a hurdle. Thus,2022 was a little more relaxed. But, it seems, we might have to take another step back to recover again.
Whether it’s happiness or sorrow, all teach us that nothing is permanent. Everything is temporary and a combination of both of these brings balance to our lives. Though uncertainty and unpredictability have been the flavours of the past three years, instead of just focusing on the negatives, let’s focus on the positives.
Although the pandemic has affected our lives negatively, thankfully, we have learned precious life lessons. We can carry those with us into 2023: recuperate and be stronger to embrace the inevitable change and jump back to life again with vigour.
Life was a continuous rat race for materialistic gains. The pandemic forced us to focus on what really mattered: protecting ourselves and our loved ones. We recognised the importance of health. We had forgotten to take care of our physical, emotional and mental health. We understood the importance of a balanced diet, exercise, sleep and hygiene. We learned that self-care isn't selfish because we can't help others if we aren't at our best. We realised that life is short & fragile; that the simple moments with family, friends and loved ones are priceless; it’s important to spend quality time with them. Even though some are far away, we can still be in touch with them through technology.
We learned to be kind, the hard way, as the pandemic led us to a lot of frustrations, fear, depression and anger. We realised the importance of kindness and compassion; being grateful for what we are blessed with, and to bring a smile to someone else's face; being kind to everyone we meet and treating them with respect. We also learned to appreciate people around us, especially the healthcare and frontline workers.
We were forced to adapt to constantly changing regulations and learned to live in the moment rather than make grand plans for the future. We learned to treasure even the simplest things in life and appreciate the beauty in this world of ours. Learning to live with less, and being happier with less, has certainly been a silver lining in our lives.
With all the uncertainties, we learned to deal with life in our own way. See how we coped with education and work? We resorted to online education and work: It has given us faith to trust ourselves. We have become more confident, resilient and optimistic.
At the stroke of midnight, it’s customary to toast the New Year and make resolutions that reflect the positive changes we hope to make for the year ahead.
Resolutions provide important goal settings which help us with a road map to a better life. It’s a self-improvement tool to help build good habits and get rid of bad habits. Resolutions help us reflect on our past, present and future. These serve as a catalyst for positive changes.
Applying the lessons we have learned can bring about pragmatic changes in our lives. We must also remember that we need to grow constantly. Along with the New Year’s resolutions, let’s strive to become a better, more beautiful version of ourselves by changing and incorporating some new habits.
Always remember to rejuvenate yourself by taking care of your mind, body, and soul every single day. Pursue your dreams-don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Drive out toxic people who drain your energy and create self-doubts. Surround yourself with the right people. We’re human, we might mess up and that’s okay. Forgive yourself and learn from it.
Be grateful for every little blessing in your life. Gratitude increases happiness and helps shift your focus towards the good things in life. Say, ‘Thank You’ more often. Express gratitude to the people who have mentored, supported or helped you. Do this every single day.
Make new friends and nurture the old.
People and their mindsets are different. Respect their views and opinions.
Understand your own values and don’t stray from them. View your decisions as active choices, not sacrifices.
Be ready for anything. Situations and environments change, and we adapt. The best example is the pandemic and the way we have adapted. Plan and take action accordingly. But be mentally ready for the unpredictable.
Acknowledge that not everything is under your control. Maybe we can control our actions but we can’t control every event occurring in our lives. Don’t be afraid of adversity. It allows you to find out what you are capable of. Adversity is an opportunity. Grab it! Keep moving forward.
You will experience moments of sadness, anger, frustration and failure. Have a positive mindset to be happy. Smile more to feel happy. Be positive. The universe listens and will give you positivity in return. Drive away the negatives in life.
Understand that the things that you really want in life will never be easy or quick. That’s why it’s important to constantly work at it and build up good habits. To achieve big goals, focus on small daily actions. Be optimistic, look for opportunities, find new strength and be resilient.
Learn and grow constantly. Learning is a continuous process. We learn every day and this process should never stop!
New Year and new resolutions,
Time for betterment of life’s evolution;
Time to stop procrastination and unfold our determination. - TH
As the year comes to an end, bid farewell to 2022 with gratitude. Be grateful to those who were there for you during your hard times, be grateful to those who didn’t: they gave you a lesson in becoming self-reliant. Appreciate every little blessing in life. Embrace the New Year 2023 with love, hope and grit to make it one of the best years of your life.
Happy New Year 2023! May you be blessed and happy!
[Tasneem Hossain is a multilingual poet, columnist, op-ed and fiction writer, translator and training consultant. She is the Director of Continuing Education Centre, Bangladesh.]
1. Dean, Jason, New Year’s, H-History, February 16, 2010
2. Thaker, Khyati, life lessons learned in 2021 to create a new you in 2022, A Lawyer’s Voyage.