The new year of 2015 is upon us. Many will say how time has passed so quickly. It was just the new year of 2014 not that long ago. But 365 days have passed us by and it is now time to say welcome to the New Year and good bye to the old one.
New Year means so many things to people around the world. Living in a multicultural society, in Brunei alone we celebrate the coming of the ‘new year’ several times a year. The Muslims just celebrated their new year of 1436 a couple of months ago and will be celebrating the new hijrah year of 1437 towards the end of 2015. The Chinese will be celebrating their new year at the end of January. And the Indians will be celebrating their Diwali in November 2015.
Celebrating the New Year is a relatively new practice. In the middle ages, even the church was against celebrating New Year’s calling it paganism. It was not until about 400 years ago that the beginning of the New Year was celebrated.
If you study the history of the calendar, even celebrating New Year on the 1st of January is a bit off. The Gregorian calendar we are using today was based on the old Roman calendar and originally it only had 10 months – December stands for the decimal 10 and the original months derived from Latin, hence September, 7th; October the 8th month and November the 9th month. So New Year was on 1st March!
However as the years went out of sync with the seasons; the months of January and February were added. Even this did not keep up and additional leap months were added from time to time to keep the calendar in sync with the four seasons. In the older days, the New Year was not always celebrated on 1st January. Some celebrated it on 25th December (Christmas); some 25th March (Feast of Annunciation); some on the first Friday of April (Easter); while others celebrated it on 1st March or on other days. Similar to today’s multi culture and multi religion, the 1st of January is not always the beginning of the New Year.
The ‘New Year’ brings out the animal called ‘New Year Resolutions’. New Year resolutions sound so easy when you make them. But keeping them is the hardest part. Why? It is always the reality of reaching those goals. It is much harder than you imagine. One reason is that we make them when we are at the end of the year and need something to look forward to, to make up for what we may have thought of as an abysmal year.
But why is it so hard to keep these resolutions? Many times we fail because of the targets which we set. We give up because some of the New Year resolutions do not produce an overnight change – there’s a lack of results because there was a lack of planning. Making permanent changes in life requires planning. We set unrealistic goals when they should be specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and trackable. Reality sucks, big time. It’s fun to imagine but so much harder to do. We do things in a big way – biting off more than you can chew.
However, do not despair. If you fail on the 1st of January, there is always the Chinese New Year in February to renew your New Year resolutions. Failing that you can use any other ‘new year’ that you can find celebrated throughout the world as a starting time. The most important thing is that, you should not give up! Happy New Year!
Haji Rozan currently holds the post of Permanent Secretary (Media and Cabinet) at the Prime Minister’s Office. His busy schedule does not deter his writing where he has the longest running column at The Brunei Times and has written more than 250 articles. He has also published three books. He has also presented a number of papers at international and local conferences and seminars.