The Gregorian Calendar used by the Western world marks January 1st as the beginning of the New Year. The month of January takes its name from the Roman deity Janus, the guardian of the threshold, who is depicted as looking forward and backward simultaneously. Though each day stands at this passage from past into future, human beings often pause at some specific point in the cycle to acknowledge our movement through time.
Although most religious traditions mark the beginning of the new year in some way, there are many different ways of counting sacred time and noting its passing. The Western world celebrates New Year”s Day on January 1st, but the Shinto New Year observance of Gantan-Sai is on the same day. Later in the month, Mahayana Buddhists will celebrate January 14th, Chinese Confucians, Taoists, and Buddhists will celebrate the beginning of the year of the Dog on January 29th, and Muslims mark Muharram, their New Year, on January 31st.The Jewish Rosh Hashana (literally “head of the year”) beginning the year 5766 fell on October 4th, 2005, the Western Christian church year began on the first Sunday of Advent, November27th, 2005. Theravada Buddhists will celebrate April 13th, Sikhs on March 14th, and Samhain (October 31) marks the turning of the year for Wiccans. And there are many more.
Sacred time is a way that human beings structure the rhythms of their lives, and there are as many ways of marking that time as there are religious traditions.Whenever you may celebrate the beginning of a new year, we extend our best wishes that the year may bring you blessings.