Yes, it’s the holiday season, but not yet New Year’s Day – as in January 1.
It’s the beginning of the Advent season. On the church Christian calendar, Advent begins the new cycle of liturgical seasons that celebrate the full redemption story of Jesus. Sunday, December 1, was the first Sunday of Advent for this year. So Happy New Year!
How many New Year’s days can you think of? I’ve just mentioned two in the paragraphs above.
October 1 is the beginning of the fiscal year for people in the financial world. In preparation for it, the books of the old year are closed out with audits, reports, and new budgets. Results of these evaluations are published for all parties concerned.
Our Jewish friends celebrated Rosh Hashanah in the fall. It means “head of the year,” in their civil calendar sequence. Many people call it the Jewish New Year, but it’s Feast of Trumpets also. It’s ten days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when God’s books of accounting for people’s lives are closed again for another year. Nisan 1 in the spring, just before Passover, is the first month of the sacred sequence of the year. Confused yet? Both of these begin with periods of self-examination and repentance, much like our Lenten season.
Late summer or early fall is familiar to all children as the beginning of the new school year. It used to coincide with the end of the harvest season before spring planting began, and children were not needed as much on the family farms. New school years follow an evaluation of the last year’s accomplishments by teachers, administrators, and school boards. Then they set new data-based goals for the coming year.
Late January will be the Chinese New Year. I don’t know much about this one.
In the middle ages, April 1 was the beginning of the year with the Julian calendar. Those people who continued to celebrate that day after switching over to the Gregorian calendar were called April Fools.
The latter part of December feels nostalgic, and we see year-end reviews of major events that occurred during the previous twelve months. New Year’s Day brings special foods for good luck as resolutions are made for the coming year. Like Janus, it’s looking backward and forward at the same time.
There may be others, but I’ve made my point. A new beginning does not depend on any single, particular day.
It’s also interesting to note that most of these recognitions of new beginnings are preceded by a time of introspection and decisions for change. It’s an opportunity for repentance and new spiritual dedications. We can be washed clean and made new in a spiritual re-birth.
I’m all for new beginnings. I’ve made many in my years on this earth. New jobs. New towns. New homes. New decisions.
It’s the holiday season. It’s a wonderful time of the year when we prepare our hearts to give Him room. After all, one of His titles is Emmanuel, God with us.
Any day is a good time to invite Him into our lives.
Happy New Year and New Beginnings.