Why January 1st is Not the Start of the New Year

Why January 1st is Not the Start of the New Year

Dec 31 2013

We live in an age where timekeeping has become an assumed background condition that we do not question. Yet nothing regulates our lives as much as the clock and calendar do. They tell us when we are supposed to work, rest, worship, celebrate, and play. So let us begin with questioning the purported start of the Euro-western New Year. First, we must define what is meant by a year. A year according to the dictionary is a period of time measuring 12 months or 365 days long. More precisely a year is a measure of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The question for us is how do we determine the criteria for the start of the solar cycle? That question is not that easy to answer once you realize that a cycle is a circle, and its impossible to determine where a circle starts or ends. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that there is no end and no beginning in the absolute sense but that idea will be discussed in much deeper detail at another time. A no beginning/no end point of view is a deeply disrupting idea for a culture (Western/Judeo-Christian), whose ideological underpinnings assumes the idea of absolute beginnings and endings. But I will say that there are attributes particular to specific points in the solar cycle. What we name those points is relative to where we stand on the globe. There are better terms to describe the stages of cyclical processes than beginning or end. Fortunately for us, perfect seamless circles are extremely rare in nature. Stars and planets are not perfectly spherical, for they bulge around their...