According to Wikipedia, the Romans originally dedicated the first day of the new year to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year (January) is named. Later, as a date in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, New Year’s Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and is still observed as such in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. In present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is probably the world’s most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year begins in each time zone.
It is the time we traditionally make promises of things we are going to do and things we are going to stop doing. Exercising, getting fit, and losing weight always seem to top the list. While these are certainly good ideas for most people, perhaps there is a more important central or “core” idea that might make these naturally “fall in line” if we got that one core idea right. Perhaps this central problem is that we do not fully realize who we are in this life. Maybe, if we knew how important we were, it might be easier to get our ducks in a row.
Covey said it well with his chapter, “Begin with the End in Mind” of his popular 7 Habits book. If your aim is going through the motions, getting by, making it to retirement, the New Year is just a repeat of last. You can be thankful you had one to live, but you didn’t really live it. If on the other hand, your goals are loftier and center on truly making a difference in your profession, your community, to your family or yourself, the New Year sets the stage for not only doing things differently but also doing different things.
Gates, doors and beginnings. That has an optimism to it I like. Maybe we all need to see Janus as opportunities for new discovery. Seems to me, for too many, the tendency now is to close the gate, lock the door, and seek the safe center of what I have done in the past. Not much of a resolution. More like a resignation that you are not going to make a difference in your life or anyone else’s.
Be a part of something. Move. Do something daring. Open a gate, a door and begin something new! That’s my wish for you this holiday.
Happy New Year!