2 Sharaf 165 B.E. (Baha’i calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: The Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
Earlier today I got an email from the year 2009. It came from a friend of mine in Japan, and they’re fifteen hours ahead of us. Most of the world now, as I write this, is in the year 2009. I have always found New Year’s Eve to be a slightly surreal experience.
Not necessarily in a bad way. Time sort of stands still and goes through a transition and at the same time it doesn’t. The divide that establishes the new year, established in the Gregorian calendar (that’s the one we all use, in case you didn’t know) is, after all, an artificial marker. The year is very real–it’s the time that it takes to go around the sun, but deciding where to mark a complete year is a human decision. So, in essence, we draw a line, we cross it, and then we celebrate crossing it.
Again, this is not a bad thing. I can’t imagine life without a calendar to mark the time and you have to set the new year somewhere. And it is a good time to reflect–to reflect on ourselves and the world at large, It’s a good time to take stock and begin anew.
But it’s a rather funny tradition we have. The noisemakers, confetti and cheap hats seem like they are borrowed from the birthday party my parents organized when I was seven. For better or worse, this will be the last year people will be able to have those funny round glasses that have the number 2 on one side and the appropriate integer marking the new year on the other side, with the two zeroes in the middle forming the glasses part.
In the past, before I became a Baha’i and stopped drinking, I’d start the new year somewhat hammered, and begin the first morning of the new year with a hangover. Now I do things differently. Tonight, I and two other housemates will stay home, hang out, and enjoy each others’ company. The temperature’s in the single digits, and I don’t really want to take chances on the roads. We have a bottle of sparkling blueberry juice ready to uncork at midnight to toast in the new year.
I look forward to the new year. I also look forward to the Baha’i new year, which we celebrate on the evening of March 20th. That’s a neat way to mark a new year, too. The Baha’i day starts at sunset, so ringing in the new year is as simple and as beautiful as watching the sun go down into a new year.