New Year a time for rebirth, renewal

Published 12:44 am Sunday, December 30, 2007

I hope everyone enjoyed the sentimental Christmas week and is prepared for a more festive holiday with the New Year approaching rapidly.

With the New Year close we all like to make resolutions to live by and challenge ourselves.

What will your New Year’s resolution be this year?

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At the Extension Service our primary resolution will be to enhance the lives of every citizen in Adams County and the surrounding area, primarily our youth.

We hold ourselves accountable for this; I encourage everyone who cares about their future to start the New Year by finding some way to help out local youth as part of your New Year’s Resolution!

Q. What is the history about the first New Year?

Nearly every holiday we celebrate in America has a clear and understood past.

The vast majority originated from religious connection; Christmas, Easter, Mardi Gras and Halloween.

Some are patriotic memorials such as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, and some are born from man’s goodwill, Thanksgiving.

New Year’s has little religious or patriotic significance yet it has grown to become one of America’s most significant holidays, in addition it is one of a very few holidays celebrated and respected worldwide.

New Year’s is one of the oldest holidays celebrated.

Approximately 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, New Year’s was celebrated after the first visible crest of the new moon after the Vernal Equinox, this often the first day of spring.

When you think about it perhaps this is when the new year should begin?

It is the season of rebirth, planting new crops, flourishing new growth of last year’s plants, and everything seems to naturally start over in the spring.

We even like to use this time to start a clean slate at home and now have the common ritual, spring cleaning. Jan. 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical, patriotic, religious, nor agricultural significance.

The ancient calendars were derived but using the sun as a natural calendar. The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.

In 153 BC, the Roman senate declared Jan. 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar.

It again established Jan. 1 as the new year.

But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

So what will your New Year’s Resolution be?

Back 4,000 years ago one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions was to return borrowed farm equipment.

This thousand year old tradition is still active today, not much farming equipment is borrowed anymore with less than 2 percent of the U.S. population active in farming or production agriculture.

Nonetheless, today the most popular ones are always spending time with family and friends, getting healthier, quitting something bad, manage finances, or increasing the quality of life.

Whatever yours is I hope it is one that benefits yourself, your family, the community, and the good ole USA!

David Carter writes a weekly column for The Democrat. He can be reached at or 601-445-8201.