Fun Fact: In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced some modifications to the existing calendar in Europe. Today, the Gregorian calendar stands as the globally-recognized measurement of dates.
But there are plenty of others used regionally as well.
Iran’s New Year falls on the spring equinox, March 21. Then the first six months of their y ear— spring and summer — have 31 days each, while the last six months — fall and winter — have 30 days each. (On non-leap years, the last month has 29 days.)
And it may be the end of 2015 in the US, but the Bengali calendar declares the year 1422.
the Burmese calendar: 1377
the Hebrew calendar: 5776
the Korean calendar: 4348
Whatever the number is, though, most use the occasion to celebrate.
But what are we celebrating?
When I lived in China, I went to ring in 2011 with some friends at one of the two Western bars in my city Zhuhai. As the clock struck 12:00, I watched confetti fall and the middle-aged English and Irishmen singing “Auld Lang Syne” while hugging one another in social euphoria.
We use the changing of the year as an opportunity to look ahead to a new start while looking back on what had happened in the past twelve months. It’s a time to get out of the bunker of our daily activity, stick our head out, and realize all the life about us, behind us, and before us.
New Years is nothing less than a celebration of life. Thus the grown men hugging in that bar. Our lives are indeed something to celebrate.
And reflection helps us appreciate. Take a look back at all the life stuffed into your previous twelve months:
the people you met; the milestones you reached in work, love, and leisure; the occasions you celebrated
the connections, the romance, the laughter…
the risks, changes, challenges, and heartbreaks…
These are the moments that strike to the root of life — when you strip away all the downtime and the false certainty and expose yourself to the reality that life can be scary, that life can be hard.
But damn, life can also be good.
…and it goes fast, doesn’t it?
I’m excited about the year ahead. Because as I look back at some of my 2015 highlights, I realize that invariably they were the product not just of my actions but of something life brought my way. The opportunity to run on a Spartan Race team was offered to me by a host family while on my book tour. My documenting a school trip to Thailand was made possible because of a coincidental reunion and a story I wrote about that very school five years prior.
Life will offer opportunities around every corner. That’s an encouraging thought. I don’t know who I’ll meet on the salsa dance floor, what I’ll discover about a colleague at work, who I’ll correspond with online. Like a child waking to discover the presents under the tree, so can we be excited to get out there and find out what gifts life will have us unwrap each day.
I wish you all the best in an eventful 2016. It will be so. You can count on that as we countdown 2015.
This article was adapted from my weekly email to family and friends. If you’d like to be included, shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know. And while you’re at it, tell me a little about yourself:)