Beware the Ides of March, particularly for those of you named Julius, or Ethel for that matter. The rest of you are probably alright.
The Ides of March is upon us, marking the beginning of the week when I traditionally like to ring in the New Year. It’s not without precedent: The Babylonians, Aztecs, Zoroastrians, and Sikhs all celebrate New Year’s Day sometime during this week, and that’s not even delving into the possible pagan origins of St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Passover.
The Jews, Copts, and perhaps the Muslims calibrate the New Year to the autumnal equinox, when darkness begins to overtake light (in the Northern Hemisphere), and I presume that’s because they mark their days with the lunar calendar and rising of the moon in the sky rather than the sun, probably not a bad idea if you live in the Middle East. Otherwise, New Year’s Day tends to correspond to one of two seasonal markers: Winter Solstice when the days have reached their shortest length and begin to get longer again, or Vernal Equinox when the days become longer than the nights.
Modern society chooses to mark the New Year ten days after the Winter Solstice, when the days are darkest and the sun is just beginning its long climb back after hitting bottom. But I choose to set my alarm for Spring, when the days actually become longer than the nights and are further enhanced by the generous federal subsidy of Daylight Savings Time, when mid-morning risers like myself gain an extra hour of afternoon sun at the expense of farmers and children with long morning commutes.
Spring feels like the time of morning when I prefer to rise–bright, warm, bursting with life. The people who begin their New Year in December? Those are the kind of people who wake up when it’s still dark out, splash cold water on their faces and hit the bricks for a power jog. I say God bless ’em, but my circadian clock waits until there is more light than dark in a day before it recognizes a New Year.
So, Happy New Year from the Rancho, and stay tuned for some thoughts and reflections on 2012: The Year That Was over the coming weeks on these pages.