Happy New Year! May the one ahead be filled with joy, promise and hope for everyone.
New Year is a time for reflection and for looking forward to the future whatever it may bring.
Around the world in many different cultures there is a connecting thread, as we welcome the arrival of the New Year.
By encouraging communication and intercultural conversations we will help contemporary citizens around the world better understand the nature of cultural difference by growing an appreciation and respect for the positive benefits a multi-cultural society can offer.
In every tradition, it is about looking forward to a fresh start with the prospect of reflecting on what has gone before, to forgive those who would do us harm and to look forward with hope to enjoy happiness, prosperity and good luck.
Western civilisation was founded on the beliefs, hopes and desires of many peoples of different societies around the world, whose visionary leaders looked to the future daring to imagine and plan for what it might be possible to achieve.
Wherever you are in the world, may someone love you enough to accept and forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes and tell others about your virtues. Be sensitive to the needs of others and create within yourself a balance of your own needs.
Many people would not realise it was only in 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585) established the first day of January as the beginning of a New Year for the so-called Gregorian Calendar, which today still shapes the lives of millions of people.
An invention that gives meaning to passing time, the new calendar also brought the celebration of Easter back to being tied to the Spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, as agreed upon during the church Council of Nicaea in 325.
It was only after many centuries of use that it finally became the international standard predominantly used today.
The first known occurrence of the Common Era in English dates to 1708.
The years prior were abbreviated in English as either BC for “Before Christ“, or as BCE for “Before the Common/Current/Christian Era”.
Anno Domini (AD), is short for Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi, which translates as in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The complexity of calculating the year prior to the adoption of the Gregorian method and the origins the months are
January: named for the two-headed god Janus (Roman god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings)… he looks both ways.
February: Februus named for the Etruscan god of death, a Sabine word for the last month of ancient pre-450 BC Roman calendar).
March: named for Mars the Roman god of war.
April: Modern scholars associate the name with an ancient root meaning ‘other’, i.e. the second month of a former calendar beginning in March
May: stands for Maia Maiestas, the Roman goddess of springtime.
June: was named for Juno the Roman goddess and wife of Jupiter
July: is named for Julius Caesar (Roman dictator). It was formerly named Quintilis, the fifth month of the calendar established by Romulus one of the city’s founders.
August: is for Caesar’s successor Augustus, first Roman emperor that was formerly named Sextilis, the sixth month of Romulus
September: comes from septem, which is Latin for seven and the seventh month of Romulus
October: octo is Latin for eight, the eighth month of Romulus
November: novem is Latin for nine, the ninth month of Romulus
December: decem is Latin for ten, the tenth month of Romulus
The New Year story is long, complex and fascinating. Remember, if you are able to wipe one tear from someone else’s cheek, then that is your reward.
May what you see in the mirror delight you and, what others see in you delight them. Happy New Year 2019.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019