It's that disconcerting time of year when we are assailed by bright and friendly faces delightedly wishing us a Happy New Year - an orgy of public celebration over unwrapping the latest wall calendar.
It is not a new year in any meaningful sense, nothing new actually starts on January 1; it is not astronomically significant, it is not part of the Christian Year nor any other religion, it is not the tax year, it is not the academic year...
The New Year is the perfect celebration for a modern world which believes in nothing - literally. In the sense that nothing is precisely what it believes in and celebrates most uninhibitedly.
Marvelous. Great excitement, all night 'partying' and extreme drunkenness in honour of utter vacuousness: who could possibly be offended by that!
Happy New Nihilism!
it is not part of the Christian Year nor any other religion
@Thursday - Good Grief! Every day of the year is some kind of feast, fast or Saints day. But it would be pretty difficult to find a less important day in the Christian Calendar than January First!
True but I wasn't aware of it. For me, it has been the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of the Lord, one of the three Marian solemnities. And that is how it was celebrated in today's mass. Admittedly, it seems to have little to do with the new calendar year and is simply the Christmas octave.
Have to demur about the unimportance of Jan. 1 in the liturgical calendar. It's true that the feast is little noted today. But it should be. On this day we commemorate how the Lord began to fulfill the demands of the Law of Moses for us -- which He did perfectly throughout His life (for both Jewish and Gentile believer). Look up the words to the hymn "The Ancient Law Departs."
The Church calendar is a _magnificent_ resource for wholesome Christian "reactionary" activity.
@Dale - yes, but how many days of the liturgical year are *more* important that the circumcision of Christ? Plenty.
It's a Christological feast, with rich soteriological significance. With respect to the former, it underscores not just our Lord's human nature but His Jewishness. With respect to the latter, it reminds us that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" -- a realism sorely lacking in most religious yaketty-yak today. The feast is also the feast of the Name Jesus, "The Lord saves." This relates to the universality-and-exclusivism of the Christian faith: it is God's revelation as nothing else is, and it is God's revelation of Himself for all.
The feast really is an excellent time for considering the theme of consecration (to use a word in need of revival in Christian circles, I suppose). Our Lord was thereby consecrated to the Lord. It would be for that reason, rather than on account of "New Year's resolutions," that Jan. 1 would be an appropriate day for renewing our consecration (with the help of God) to God.
@Dale - well, that is by far the best argument I have heard to justify starting the Year on Jan 1.
The Feast of the Circumcision is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church, or at least it was when I was younger, and I haven't heard that it's changed. That makes it one of the most important days in the church calendar.
I think the point Bruce is making is that, even if Jan. 1 does happen to be an important Christian feast, the vast majority of people celebrating New Year's Day have no idea that it is the Feast of the Circumcision and are certainly not celebrating it as the feast of the circumcision. For most people, New Year's Day is celebrating nothing in particular, only the passage of time -- that a year has passed since the last time they celebrated it. It certainly does have its nihilistic aspect.
That said, New Year is one of my favorite holidays and always has been. I like having a time to look back on the past year, take stock, and decide how to change things in the coming year. ("Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.") And I like the fact that the holiday isn't about anything else -- no rival "true meanings" to distract you. It is timed well, in the dead of winter, and even the drunkenness -- the simultaneous celebrating and forgetting, the symbolic bathing in the rivers Lethe and Eunoe -- contributes to the spirit of the holiday, where in any other holiday it would be a distraction.
I have always liked the festive-for-no-reason nature of New Year's. It is my favorite secular holiday by far. Among my family and friends it always struck me as a surfeit of midwinter joy and rebirth, coming as it does so soon after the solstice and then, of course, Christmas.
It also seems to mark the end of a kind of truce period that extends over these days. I've heard almost nothing about politics, "social justice," and other nonsense in the last two weeks. It will all start up again today, unfortunately.
By the way, if you ever did want to do away with New Year's celebrations, Bruce, the first step would be to get the Feast of the Circumcision to become more recognized, not less so. Then the PC brigade could campaign against this oppressive, evil Christian tradition. Or perhaps they could change the meaning of the day so instead of attending mass, or drinking champagne, we all have to march in the streets demanding public penance from all Anglo-Americans for allowing female "circumcision" to occur in Western Africa, a crime which, we all know, is exactly the fault of white privilege and male prerogative.
Happy New Year!
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