“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Did you know that New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday? The Babylonians began celebrating New Year’s Day on March 23, around 2000 BC. The end of March was the logical choice for the New Year because it’s the beginning of spring and it’s also when new crops are planted.
The Romans continued celebrating New Year’s Day at the end of March, but with every new emperor came change… and in time they landed on January 1st. This date has no special significance; it was completely random. The month of January was placed at the beginning of the calendar year because of the mythical god Janus (the god with two faces: one looked forward into the future, and the other looked backward over the past). After Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar, January 1st was officially established as the New Year.
There are many different New Year customs, dating from ancient times that ring out the old, and ring in the new. And it seems that many of them – as was the case with the mythical two-faced god – are centered on either fear or fortune.
In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons. In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness. In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors (and allowed to remain there!) Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians, and in Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware are exchanged for good luck. Even here in the south, many eat black-eyed peas and pork on New Year’s Day for good fortune.
So, as a Christian, what am I to make of all this? Well, first of all, I’m grateful that I serve the only true God, who is not trapped in time and space, but because He created everything, exists outside of it… He doesn’t need two faces – one to look back – and the other to look forward. He doesn’t even need to turn His head to see everything all at once, past, present, and future.
Personally, I like celebrating the end of the year past, and focusing on a brand new year to come. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what God is doing in my life, as he gradually changes me to be more like Christ. To me, the perfect verse to reflect on this week is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!” Actually, in the Greek, this verse speaks more to a progression than a onetime event, so it reads, the old is going and the new is coming.
So this week, as we usher in a new year, reflect on this question; Last year, how much of the old went away, and what was added new in my life, making me more like Christ. And, in this year to come, what still needs to change?
God bless you, and happy New Year!