Happy New Year (Again)

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How are those New Year’s resolutions doing for you? Have your annual good intentions already bit the dust? Yeah, mine too. Fear not! Each new calendar year presents us with multiple chances to begin anew.

If you missed out on New Year’s Day, Spring Equinox can stand in its stead. Winter can be rough. Makes more sense to celebrate its end. Spring Equinox was observed as New Year’s Day in America until we adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. So call yourself a traditionalist and go!

Spring Equinox is the federal New Year’s holiday in India. In Japan, everyone gets the day off and flocks to parks where fruit trees bloom. Falling on Spring Equinox, Nowruz, Persian for “new day,” is a major holiday in Iran and all the way to the Balkans. What began as a holy day for Zoroastrians morphed into a huge party — festive singing and dancing, ceremonial feasting, and fires to chase out lingering cold.

Ride those Spring Equinox metaphors for all it’s worth. You don’t need a yard to plant seeds. Take any small object — a bead, rock, or even a chunk of tree bark — and infuse into it what you desire to manifest in the upcoming year. Bury the object in the dirt or suspend it from a tree or shrub. Nature’s energy is surging upward and so can you along with it.

Hindus embrace the beginning of spring explosively with Holi, set on a Full Moon near Spring Equinox. People pelt each other with colored powders; the streets and sidewalks flow with color. It’s impossible to be sad. Or clean. For us neatniks, it’s a time for new brightly colored kitchen linens and a vase of flowers in the bathroom, bringing the outdoors in.

The Chinese tackle the New Year earlier, starting on the second New Moon after Winter Solstice. It makes sense in a way. Although deep into winter, it’s the first time we can feel the days getting longer. Even in the dire cold, buds are setting on branches; sap rises in the snow-burdened maple tree. In adversity, there is strength and commitment to the future.

Chinese New Year is a time to let everything go. Sweep out the abode with the intention of cleaning emotional house as well, going into the year lighter with less baggage. Drums larger than barrels are beaten and cymbals clanged. Fireworks explode everywhere. Like a giant ceremonial tide, noise chase out bad luck and negativity so all the right rituals and ceremonial foods can bring in good fortune.

If you miss even these, there are more new-year opportunities: the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, in September, and Diwali for Hindus in November. Proving, thankfully, it’s never too late for new year’s resolutions.

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