Friday Reflections – New Year Edition

Happy Friday and welcome to Peter Waller's first Friday Reflections of 2023!!

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.” Nido Qubein

If you have watched these reflections before you may have noticed that I like a good folk tale or parable. I love the stories and traditions that have been passed down the centuries in different cultures. So given this is the first week of the year I thought I would have a look at some of the things people apparently do around this world to ring the new year in and encourage a prosperous 12 months ahead.

In the UK we are familiar with making resolutions at new year of things we are going to commit to in the coming months – either taking on new habits or hobbies or giving up old ones.  What I didn’t know was that this tradition is apparently over 4,000 years old, there are records Babylonians promising to pay debts as a way to celebrate the changing of the year – if they fulfilled their promise then the gods would favour them, if they didn’t then they were doomed.

For the ancient Babylonians New Year was timed with the planting of crops in March, it was changed by Julius Caesar some 2 thousand years later when the Roman calendar introduced January 1st named after Janus, the two-faced god, whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches – therefore able to simultaneously look back over the previous year and forward to the coming year. As a result, early Christians watch night services on New Year’s Eve were about reflecting on your past mistakes and resolving to do better. Today New Year resolutions are more self-improvement and whilst up to 45% of people make them only 8% successfully stick to them – in my post last week I gave some tips on how to increase your success rate.

In other cultures, rounds things seem to crop up – in the Philippines they buy 12 different round fruits at new year. Apparently, the round shape represents money or coins and 12 ensures they are prosperous for each month in coming year. The different fruits also have meanings apparently apples for peace and harmony.  This theme of wishing for a peaceful new year also links to the tradition in Brazil and some parts of Africa to wear white and deliver offerings to the queen of the sea by jumping seven waves and making a wish for each jump. Whilst we are on jumping, I like the tradition in Denmark where they climb onto a chair at the stroke of midnight and literally leap into the new year to move on from them past and bring them luck for the future.

Back in the UK, if possible, we like to kiss someone on the stroke of midnight, as the tradition goes the first person with whom you come into contact on the new year dictates the shape of the year ahead. They are many other traditions that I discovered but they all seem to have the same, I guess logical aim, to draw a line under last year and enter the new year with renewed hope and positivity.

My message to you then is that however you to choose to mark the turning of the year, whether you to commit to resolutions or not, maybe at the very least take note of the traditions and just take a moment to reflect on the on the successes and learnings from last year then design how you want this year to be.