Nothing’s New in The New Year

By Jim Berlin

I don’t want to rain on your party hat, but there really is no “new” in this New Year’s Day we all celebrate.

Clocks and calendars are simply our way of keeping score, man-made inventions that allow us to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and give some context to Columbus sailing the ocean blue. We separate our existence into universally-accepted components to give order to our lives…to make sense of the milestones in our struggle to thrive and survive.

Humans can exist without clocks and calendars, of course, and they have. When the pilgrims arrived, Native-Americans were running things by the seasons and length of days. They got along just fine, but you don’t build a great society on phrases like “Many moons ago.”

The necessary marriage between progress and formally marking time became clear at least 7,000 years back. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians accomplished it with sundials and devices that transferred water between receptacles at a constant rate.

It was a beginning, but marking time didn’t really get serious until 700 B.C. when Romulus, founder of Rome, produced – appropriately enough – the Roman calendar. Julius Caesar improved upon it, and the Gregorian calendar

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some 16 centuries later perfected it.

But the Earth, with its annual trip around the sun, acts no differently on January 1st. It just keeps doing what it’s been doing for billions of years, adding on the miles with no pause for celebration.

Time belongs to God. Clocks and calendars are stuff his kids invented to give rhythm and cadence as we march through it, year after year, century after century.

But, hey! Happy New Year!


Happy Imaginary New Year!

By Jim Berlin

We all shout “Happy New Year!” and pucker up at the stroke of midnight as if something monumental has occurred, but a new year is all in our heads. Calendars and clocks are simply human inventions created to help society conduct its serious and social business in an orderly fashion.

Without dates and times to anchor all of our interactions, modern governments and businesses and society in general would operate in perpetual confusion. I stress the word modern because humans got along quite well before the Egyptians hammered out the first workable calendar 4,000 years before Christ cried in the manger.

We got up with the sun, followed wild game wherever it went, planted crops when the ground softened in the spring and pretty much went to bed when the sun disappeared for another day. There were no birthdays celebrated, no holidays to toast, no New Year’s Eve parties.

The seasons came and went, dissolving one into the next – people grew old and died and newborns took their place.

We could mark the passing of a year – the Earth’s total trip around the sun – on any day we choose. In 45 B.C. The Romans

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selected January lst, but before that their new year began in March.

It’s all in our heads. The Earth gracefully revolves on its axis every 23 hours and 56 minutes – we complete our relentless journey around the sun every 365 days and six hours. And today, at midnight, we pretend the journey will begin all over again.

Happy New Year!