Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy new year!

Hi, everyone.

Does it feel like spring where you are?

I've been thinking about when different groups of we humans consider the beginning of the year...

When I was working at my first post-college full-time job, I remember feeling sad in the fall because I was missing a new year--the start of the academic year. While I was plugging away at work at the same office doing the same kinds of things, there were people starting new projects, making new friends, embarking on new fields of knowledge. I guess it was only a matter of time before I got back into school. (And kept going back, again and again!)

There are some cultures that celebrate the new year around Groundhog Day--the date halfway between winter solstice and vernal equinox. The one that comes to mind immediately is Chinese New Year, but I know I've read about others... (maybe Tibet?) This makes sense to me as the beginning of the year because this is when I can actually tell that the light is coming back; I can really see that winter is waning. (I think this might be why I make a point, each year, to really notice this day.)

And it's not totally unreasonable for us to celebrate the new year when we do in western/Anglo culture, just after winter solstice. It seems to me that this is a way of reminding us that the sun *will* come back, that we've made it through the darkest part of the year even if it doesn't particularly seem like it yet.

But springtime seems like an especially good time to celebrate the beginning of a new year. The birds are coming back and singing up a storm, the trees are budding, plants are sending up new shoots. There are fewer days when you wake up to ice on the ground.

The Lakota celebrate new year's day on the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. They travel to Harney Peak (as ironically named as Custer State Park) in the Black Hills and do a ceremony to begin the year. I hope they're having good weather out there--dry, and not too cold.

Here are some photos, from our front yard, that tell us spring has begun in Ohio...

I bet I'll be showing you photos of our daffodils and tulips before too long!

How is spring coming along where you are?



  1. Spring is sprung in Maryland, too. As a lifelong academic, I still think of "year" as September to September. Last year was last school year. Spring is a perfect time to celebrate new year, especially since that's when we celebrate Resurrection--new life. Catholicism starts the new year with the first Sunday of Advent, the period before Christmas. Did you know that February 2 is also original Busia's birthday? Maybe you didn't know why the day is so special to you.

  2. Thanks for that info, Mom!!!