New Year’s for the superstitious lot
On New Year’s Eve in 1921, the Columbus News published a list of superstitions and customs pertaining to this holiday. Montana is such a melting pot that customs, superstitions and traditions came from all over the world. Here is a synopsis of some of those:
•Quiet clear weather on New Year’s Eve means the year will be prosperous. But if the wind blows, it is a sign of pestilence.
•It is lucky to rise early on New Year’s Day, but if you wash clothes on the first day of the New Year, you will wash away a friend.
•If the ice melts on January first, it will freeze on April first.
•While the clock is striking midnight on New Year’s Eve, say this poem three times: “St. Anne St. Anne, send me a man as fast as you can” and you will be engaged within the year.
•Calling on friends is a longtime tradition on New Year’s Day. But in even earlier times, caroling was the custom. Bring the first carol singer who comes to your door on New Year’s into your house through the front door, take the caroler throughout the house and let him out the back door; it will bring luck to your household for the coming year.
•If the first person you meet on New Year’s Day is a man, you’ll have good luck; if it’s a woman, bad luck; if it’s a priest, you’ll die within the year; if it’s a policeman, you will have a lawsuit.
•Good luck will come to you if you place coins on your windowsill on New Year’s Eve.
Whatever your superstitions or traditions, party safely and have a prosperous New Year.
Ellen Baumler, Montana Moment
Ellen Baumler is an award-winning author and the interpretive historian at the Montana Historical Society.
Article Published On Great Falls Tribune
10 New Year’s Resolutions You Might Actually Keep
- Making an annual list of New Year’s resolutions is a venerable tradition. By some accounts, it dates back to the ancient Romans, who customarily made a show of promising the god Janus that they would behave better over the next 12 months than they had in the past 12 . But while Janus was the patron deity of new beginnings, he also provided a convenient excuse. If a citizen of Rome didn’t actually follow through with his various self-improvement vows, he could always shrug it off by explaining that it was Janus’ will . Then, presumably, he could just go on gorging himself at banquets or betting excessively on gladiator fights.
Sounds familiar? A couple of millennia later, we’re pretty much doing the same thing that the Romans did. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that six months into the year, fewer than half — 46 percent — of resolvers were still keeping to their pledge. Granted, that’s a better track record at self-improvement than people who make no resolutions at all (only 4 percent of those achieved success).
But with all the practice we get at making resolutions year after year, why aren’t we doing better at keeping them? Psychologists and other experts who’ve studied resolution-making say we tend to make them too general rather than specific; we resolve to “exercise more” as opposed to “walk a half hour five times a week” [sources: Eisenstadt, Sample].
We suspect that another reason New Year’s goals are easy to break is that while losing weight or quitting smoking (two of the top resolutions) are worthy endeavors, they sound rather boring and involve a lot of self-denial. This year, why not make some positive and creative New Year’s resolutions? Here are 10 that you might actually be able to keep.
10: Trust Your Instincts
In some ways, this might be the easiest resolution to follow. That’s because it doesn’t require you to change, so much as go back to doing what you were naturally inclined to do, before you started doubting your feelings and over-thinking things, or putting too much stock in others’ opinions at the expense your own.
Going with your gut might seem crude and primitive, but actually, there’s scientific evidence that it can lead to better decisions. In a 1997 study published in the journal Science, researchers found that card players often made the right decision based on a “hunch” well before they could even articulate what strategy they were following [sources: Bechara, et al., and Cassleman].
What we think of as an “instinct” actually is a phenomenon called instrumental conditioning, in which a region of our brain called the ventral striatum instantaneously processes subtle contextual cues from a situation, interprets them, and suggests a course of action before we’ve even had a chance to consciously analyze what’s happening . Malcolm Gladwell, author of the 2007 bestseller “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” describes this ability as “thin slicing” — that is, the knack for coming to an accurate conclusion based on a quick, tiny sample of information. In other words, having lots of information or listing all the pros and cons doesn’t always make for a better decision .
One easy way to give more weight to your instincts: When you have a gut feeling about something, write it down or record it in your smartphone. Also note your mood at the time (“Do I not want this new job because I am afraid I can’t do it?”). Then test your feelings out on family or friends to get their reaction .
9: Stop Procrastinating
Here’s a resolution that you may have made in previous years, but somehow just didn’t get around to accomplishing. OK, that’s a joke. But procrastination — that is, the tendency to habitually and consistently delay tasks — is a problem that plagues about 20 percent of the population worldwide, according to DePaul University psychology professor Joseph R. Ferrari, who spent years studying the phenomenon and is the author of a 2010 self-help tome, “Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done.”
He advises truly hard-core procrastinators to seek out cognitive behavioral therapists. But for those of us who are aren’t quite that dysfunctional, Ferrari suggests some simple research-tested steps to counteracting our tendency to dawdle.
•Resolve to keep a to-do list, with realistic deadlines for each item. Identify your most urgent priorities, and tackle those items first.
•Next, deliberately pick the most unpleasant items on the list and get them completed, because those are the ones that you’re most likely to put off.
•Aggressively manage technological distractions. Check your e-mail only once an hour, and only follow up or answer messages when absolutely necessary.
•Stick to completing the tasks on your list before tackling new assignments.
•Figure out who your most productive colleagues are, and try to team up with them, so you can model their techniques for making the most of their time .
8: Learn to Take Risks
Whether you’re perusing the listings in an online dating service or investing in the stock market, you probably already realize that in order to get the reward that you want, you’re going to have to take a risk. And unless you’re part of the minority that psychologists call “high sensation seekers” — that is, unusually adventurous people whose nervous systems are wired biochemically to crave the stimulation of danger — you probably have a powerful innate urge to play it safe and avoid uncertainty . A 2012 study by a Case Western Reserve University psychologist found that subjects who played a computerized slot-machine game experienced powerful emotions from surprise outcomes, which deterred them from risk-taking behavior — even if the surprise resulted in their winning money .
But learning to take risks doesn’t mean being foolhardy or reckless, either. Instead, you can learn to pick and choose which risks are worth accepting to achieve your goals in life. Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who frequently makes life-and-death evaluations of risk in his work, suggests applying a simple process to any risk: Instead of evaluating the likelihood of success, evaluate your willingness to accept the various possible outcomes. What’s the best thing that could happen if you take a particular risk? What’s the worst outcome? Once you’ve weighed those two scenarios, it’s time to look at the converse. What’s the best thing that could happen if you don’t take the risk, and what’s the worst possible result? If you see that the positives exceed the negatives and the benefits of action outweigh inaction, then it’s time to take the plunge .
7: Forgive Someone
One of the toughest parts of being human is experiencing the pain of being hurt by someone else, whether it’s a deliberate act of cruelty or unintentional thoughtless behavior. But the resentment we feel against someone who’s harmed us can injure us even more.
In a 2003 article, German psychiatrist Michael Linden identified a mental malady, post-traumatic embitterment disorder or PTED, in which memories of the event and continuing anger over the injustice can lead to depression, sleep disturbances, physical pain and loss of appetite, to the point where a person can become paralyzed by such feelings . But researchers have found that it can be difficult for people to forgive, in part because victims of wrongdoing tend to remember the event much differently than the perceived transgressor, over time embellishing negative details and leaving out mitigating factors that might help them to get over the hurt .
Psychologist Ned Hallowell advises following a four-part process.
•Acknowledge your pain. Admit to yourself that you’ve been hurt.
•Ask yourself, what do you want this pain to turn into? It’s not about how your transgressor feels, but about how you want to feel. Forgiveness is a service to yourself.
•Work through your anger. It’s okay to imagine vengeance, as long as you don’t act on those urges. But it’s better to think of how much happier and better off you’ll be once you are free of these feelings.
•Renounce your rage and resentment. Recognize that they may never go away completely — but resolve that if and when you do feel them again, you’ll simply repeat this process and regain your feeling of peace .
6: Tip Generously
If you’ve never worked as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, you may think leaving a tip is an optional gesture, something that you only do when a server delivers your main course at precisely the moment that your hunger pangs are reaching their apex, or else jumps in and successfully performs the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a life-threatening hunk of prime rib from your throat. But if that’s what you think, you’re not seeing things from the perspective of the 2.26 million waiters and waitresses in the U.S., who are paid an average wage of just $18,330 annually .
For them, that 20 percent gratuity may make the difference in whether or not they’ll be able to pay their rent or afford a pair of comfortable shoes to ease the discomfort of being on their feet all day. And servers work pretty darn hard to maximize their chances of getting that extra few percent that can lift them above penury. If you wonder why they introduce themselves by name, it’s because research shows that they’ll typically get a 23 percent tip if they do, as opposed to 15 percent if they remain anonymous. (Similarly, that odd gesture of squatting down to talk to a customer typically results in a 3 percent additional gratuity) . If you think, “The restaurant should just pay its staff more,” also consider that if that were the case, chances are the restaurant food prices would be higher, too.
Remember also the other people who provide services to you, such as parking valets, coatroom attendants, bartenders and pizza delivery workers who are heavily dependent upon your generosity .
5: Learn One New Thing
Back in 1905, a 55-year-old Johns Hopkins University medical professor named William Osler gave a retirement speech, in which he opined that the “effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of 25 and 40 — those 15 golden years.” By contrast, Osler argued, those over the age of 40 didn’t have anything new to offer, and he thought it would be best if people stopped working at age 60, since by then their brains were pretty much shot.
Osler’s belief that brainpower, creativity and innovation had a limited shelf life sounds a bit daft today, but up until recently, scientists actually did believe that brain cells died off without being replaced and that after our youthful peak, our mental capabilities steadily declined with every passing year. Today, however, we know that many people don’t experience a noticeable drop-off in brainpower as they age, and that some mental abilities that depend upon accumulated knowledge and experience actually tend to get better over time.
Research shows that regular mental workouts — such as the sort that you get from taking a college class, reading a challenging book or studying a foreign language — actually improve the function of parts of the brain associated with memory, learning and decision-making But again, the resolutions that stand the most chance of success are focused and modest. So this year, set a reasonable goal of acquiring some new knowledge. It’s easier now than ever, now that educational consortiums such as Udacity and Coursera are offering massive open online courses (MOOCs), which actually allow you to participate in free classes taught by professors at elite universities like Columbia, Brown and Stanford . Of course, a college in your hometown is also sure to offer a short night-time course on something of interest.
4: Live Longer, Watch Less TV
A 2011 Nielsen Co. study found that Americans are watching more TV than ever before — an astonishing 158 hours a month on their TV sets, plus close to an additional nine hours on computers, tablets and smartphones. That came to 22 minutes more per month than in 2010. It’s not just that there are more devices, but thanks to cable channels creating their own original shows, there’s more content than ever to watch as well. Add online libraries of programs, and digital video recorders that allow us to time-shift programs, and we can pretty much watch TV whenever and wherever we want.
All that TV watching could kill you. We’re not joking. A 2010 study published online by the American Heart Association, in which researchers followed 8,800 adults, revealed that people who watched four hours or more each day were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from other causes, compared to those who watched less than two hours. And each additional hour spent in front of the TV increased a person’s overall risk of death by 11 percent . This was mainly due to all that sitting. Too much muscle inactivity disrupts your metabolism.
Think of it this way: If you cut back to two hours of viewing a day, that’s still enough to enjoy 10 worthwhile programs each week, plus a sports event or two on the weekend. This year, admit that you’ve seen every rerun of “Law & Order” and “Jersey Shore,” and start cutting back on your screen time in favor of healthier pursuits, such as exercising, playing games and talking to your family. And don’t flip the TV on when there’s nothing you really want to watch.
3: Try a New Adventure
Going on vacations is fun, and more than 40 percent of American adults fly on leisure trips each year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. A lot of those trips are to visit friends and family, or to go to theme parks and resorts. Those can be memorable and enjoyable experiences. But instead of going on the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland, gambling in Las Vegas, or playing hearts with cousin Ethel again, why not go somewhere different this year? If you’ve read books such as Paul Theroux’s “The Old Patagonian Express” or Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” you know that going someplace challenging and immersing yourself in a totally new, unfamiliar culture can be a transcendent, even life-altering experience.
For one, going to new places means learning how to interact with whoever you meet. “I’m not afraid to travel to the most remote places in the world, not if there are human beings there to meet,” Gilbert wrote in “Eat, Pray, Love.” “People asked me before I left for Italy, ‘Do you have friends in Rome?’ And I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, ‘But I will.”
So this year, why not plan an adventure journey somewhere? One intriguing trend is volunteer vacations, where you spend a week in some exotic location, helping scientists save endangered sea turtles or helping out at a children’s clinic. (Check out Volunteer Guide). If money is tight, look online for volunteer opportunities right at home that might offer the same kinds of activities. Or make it a point to attend a local festival celebrating a culture you’re unfamiliar with.
2: Get to Know Your Neighbors
If you grew up hearing Mister Rogers singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” there’s some distressing news in a 2010 Pew Research Center study, which reveals that most of us don’t really know the people who live in our immediate vicinity very well. Fewer than half of Americans — 43 percent — said that they knew all or most of their neighbors, while 28 percent admitted they didn’t know the names of any of them at all .
That disturbing data only provides further confirmation of what Harvard University public policy professor Robert D. Putnam described in a 2000 book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” Americans, Putnam wrote, had become so immersed in their work, TV and the Internet that they had become increasingly alienated from their neighbors. Putnam found the perfect metaphor in the recreational sport of bowling; even though more Americans were bowling than ever before, they increasingly were doing it by themselves, rather than participate in the old-fashioned Friday night bowling leagues to which their parents had belonged .
The Young Foundation, a British-based community development group, found that people who had regular contact with their neighbors felt more secure and happy. It recommends some simple steps to bring back some sense of community. If you regularly pass someone on the street, smile and say hello, and introduce yourself. When someone new moves in, go to their door and welcome them. And if you see a neighbor doing yard work or moving a sofa, stop what you’re doing and offer to help . And while you’re at it, try to talk them into forming a bowling team.
1: Use Your Talents for a Good Cause
Volunteering — whether it’s in a local soup kitchen, or tutoring kids in an after-school program, or cleaning cages at the local animal shelter — sure sounds like something that’s good for the soul. And that’s why it’s a bit disheartening to discover that most of us don’t do it. According to a 2012 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 26.8 percent of Americans had volunteered through or for a local organization at least once in the previous year .
While lack of community involvement is probably part of the cause, in fairness, one reason more people don’t pitch in probably is that they don’t have much free time. Americans typically put in an additional seven hours per week — nearly a full day of work — answering e-mail and calls from their employers and doing other uncompensated work in what is supposed to be their free time .
But even if a highly trained professional can squeeze in some time to help, he or she may feel performing menial labor isn’t really making a difference. Fast Company, a business publication, and other organizations have come up with an ingenious solution that actually may help more. They’ve created an online clearinghouse, Catchafire.org, which matches people with charities who can use their skills, whether it’s accounting, marketing or Web design .
And if you aren’t comfortable with that much structure or time commitment, Huffington Post blogger Kari Henley suggests another answer: ad hoc, spur-of-the-moment activism. Deliver a dinner to a friend or neighbor in need. Offer to baby-sit a new mom’s kids for an afternoon. Send an unexpected card of encouragement to someone . Helping one person at a time is a good entry-level way to become a humanitarian, and you still get that warm and fuzzy payoff.
Lots More Information
Author’s Note: 10 New Year’s Resolutions You Might Actually Keep
It was interesting to research and write this assignment, because I’m one of those people who makes a long list of detailed resolutions each year and then promptly misplaces it. This year, though, I think that I’m going to pare down my list, and break each item into less arduous steps, and then come up with deadlines that I can mark in my Google calendar and ToDoist, a Web site that I use to organize my work assignments. I’ve tried that approach with my exercise goals, and it seems to work pretty well.
Article Published on How Things Work, (People)
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Why do people make New Year’s resolutions?
When did ringing in the New Year become such a big deal? Turns out, it isn’t just a construct of modern Americans. Some 4,000 years ago, Babylonians rang in their new year with an 11-day festival in March, and ancient Egyptians celebrated the advent of their new calendar during the Nile River’s annual flood. By 46 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar had moved the first day of the year to Jan. 1 in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, an idea that took some time to catch on. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII brought the Jan. 1 New Year back in vogue with the Gregorian calendar — a concept that persists today.
The origin of making New Year’s resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they’d earn good favor in the coming year. They often resolved to get out of debt.
Sounds familiar? Many of us are still making that resolution today. So what’s the secret to keeping it? Turns out, simply wanting to change is not enough; you need to make it stick. One way to do this is to share your resolution with others.
“When you keep resolutions a secret, no one is going to check up on you. You’re only accountable to yourself,” says Joe Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. He says that a party to publicly share your resolutions is an admirable way to ring in the New Year. Social media offers another avenue to let others in on your goals.
Once you’ve involved others in your resolutions, what steps can you take to ensure that when they do check up on you, you have something positive to report? Here’s some advice from the experts.
The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions
The success of your New Year’s resolutions starts with your head. Limiting yourself to a few resolutions, maybe even one, and being specific are a few things to keep in mind, says Michael Kitchens, assistant professor of psychology at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. “It’s tempting to make a list of ‘to-dos,’ but that list will easily be overwhelming and you will end up frustrated.”
Setting a specific goal can make all the difference, such as “I want to lose 10 pounds by March 1” or “I want to save $50 of each paycheck.”
“Set a goal that is challenging, but manageable,” says Kitchens. “This is a sensitive balance that really can only be made by each person.”
Overly ambitious goals can drain a person’s confidence when they’re not met, agrees Ferrari. Instead, build on small, observable victories and possibly achieve bigger goals down the line. “Don’t try and do everything,” he says. “Take things on one at a time.”
Whatever goals you do tackle, be sure to monitor your progress. “If your resolution is to lose weight, check your weight regularly. If it’s to save money, write down where you’ve spent your money. Monitoring those few, challenging goals you set will dramatically improve your success rate,” Ferrari says. Sometimes, just the act of recording everything you eat or spend can cause you to eat or spend less even if you don’t consciously change anything else.
Many resolutions include overcoming bad habits, such as smoking, overeating or too much alcohol consumption. These could be tough because they are easy to rely on when stressed out.
“While these vices are especially difficult to overcome, they can be beaten,” says Kitchens. “One of the best ways is to have a social support system.” In other words, when you’re feeling stressed, call a friend rather than open a bottle of red wine.
Whatever your New Year goals, give yourself some time to make them a reality. More time than you may have planned on, actually. While most people cling to the widespread belief that new habits can be formed in 21 days, new research is suggesting we need a longer timetable. One recent study found it took participants an average of 66 days to do something different — and stick with it
The good news? If you take this advice, your new gym membership won’t become obsolete until March.
Author’s Note: Why do people make New Year’s resolutions?
Although I doubt I’ll keep them all (haven’t yet), I’ll still make resolutions this New Year’s Eve. After researching this article, though, I will be doing one thing differently. This year, instead of sweeping goals that probably won’t come to fruition, I’m going to divide them into more manageable pieces. Experts say I’ll be more successful with goals that have easily identifiable steps — and a reasonable timeframe in which to do them.
Author: Laurie L. Dove
Website: How Stuff Works (People)
New Year’s Day Resolutions and Traditions
While celebration varies all over the world, common traditions include:
Making resolutions or goals to improve one’s life.
Common resolutions concern diet, exercise, bad habits, and other issues concerning personal wellness.
A common view is to use the first day of the year as a clean slate to improve one’s life. A gathering of loved ones: Here you’ll typically find champagne, feasting, confetti, noise makers, and other methods of merriment Fireworks, parades, concerts.
Famous parades include London’s New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Superstitions concerning food or visitors to bring luck. This especially includes circle-shaped foods, which symbolize cycles. The reasoning behind superstitions is that the first day of the year sets precedent for the following days. A common superstition specific to New Year’s Day concerns a household’s first visitor of the year—tradition states that if a tall, dark-haired stranger is the first to walk through your door, called the First Footer or Lucky Bird, you’ll have good luck all year. Also, if you want to subscribe to superstition, don’t let anything leave the house on New Year’s, except for people. Tradition say’s: don’t take out the trash and leave anything you want to take out of the house on New Year’s outside the night before. If you must remove something, make sure to replace it by bringing an item into the house. These policies of balance apply in other areas as well—avoiding paying bills, breaking anything, or shedding tears.
Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. In coastal regions, running into a body of water or splashing water on one another, symbolizing the cleansing, “rebirth” theme associated with the holiday.
HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
As we mentioned earlier, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges and we see this statue (pictured at left,) set on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar. Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.
The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began during this period in Rome two millennia ago, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. But when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. For example, Christians chose to observe the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1 in place of the revelry otherwise indulged in by those who did not share the faith. This replacement had varying degrees of success over the centuries, and Christians hesitated observing some of the New Year practices associated with honoring the pagan god Janus.
As we’ve described elsewhere, even as recently as the 17th century, Puritans in Colonial America avoided the indulgences associated with New Year’s celebrations and other holidays. In the 18th century, Puritans avoiding even naming Janus. Instead they called January “First Month.”
In contrast to this, the Puritans urged their children to skip the revelry and instead spend their time reflecting on the year past and contemplating the year to come. In this way they adopted again the old custom of making resolutions. These were enumerated as commitments to better employ their talents, treat their neighbors with charity, and avoid their habitual sins.
The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards, brought up in New England Puritan culture, took the writing of resolutions to an art form. But he did not write his resolutions on a single day. Rather, during a two-year period when he was about 19 or 20 following his graduation from Yale, he compiled some 70 resolutions on various aspects of his life, which he committed to reviewing each week.
Here are just three:
- Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
- Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
- Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.
How do your resolutions compare?
About the Author
Bill Petro is a high-tech sales enablement and marketing executive. Currently Data Center Sales Enablement Lead at Cisco. Extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Data Center, Information Storage, Virtualization, Mobile and Social technologies.
Article published on Bill Petro, Bridging the Gap from Strategy to Execution
HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S DAY
We have the ancient Romans to thank for celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1. It wasn’t always that way. Indeed, previous civilizations celebrated it in March, to observe the “new year” of growth and fertility. Before calendars existed the time between seed sowing and harvesting was considered a cycle or a year. But the Romans moved the date of New Year to January 1, as I’ll explain below, but first a little on calendars.
Calendar gets its name from the name of the first day of a month in the Roman (Latin) calendar: kalendae
Calendars were developed for all kinds of purposes:
- Religious: “holy days” or holidays
- Astronomical: connecting the movement of objects in the sky
- Commercial: tracking trade and billing
- Arithmetic: for calculating differences between dates. Because there was no Year 0, the difference between 1 BC and AD 1 is not 2 years. Which is a challenge for Astronomical Calendars
- Social: to keep track of people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. It gives new meaning to the word “date”
Calendars often tracked the movement of the sun or moon, or both. Some, like the Egyptians of antiquity, traced the movements of planets such as Venus. Setting the date for the universal observance of Easter has witnessed international controversy — including the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 — and caused several calendar reforms. If you don’t account for Easter, there are only 14 different permutations of the de facto international standard Gregorian Calendar, (named after Pope Gregory XIII who established it in 1582) now commonly in use. But because the date for Easter Sunday can vary so much — it’s the first Sunday after the first Paschal Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, and let’s not forget Leap Year — there are 70 different calendars.
So, back to the date for New Year… originally it was celebrated late in March, when Spring begins with the Vernal Equinox. The ancient Babylonians were the first recorded observers of New Year festivities some 4,000 years ago and celebrated it with the priests offering sacrifices at their temple, kind of like a church. These celebrations lasted for 11 days, due to the numerous state-sponsored football bowl games played at that time. But because there were also the priestly religious observances held at this time, it caused a cry from the populace for the “separation of church and state-championships.”
The Romans also celebrated the New Year in March, but there were so many adjustments to their calendar by their rulers, in part — this may be hard to believe — to extend their terms of office, that calendar dates no longer were synchronized with any astronomical movements. The Roman Senate was forced in 153 BC to start the new year on January 1. This did not sufficiently discourage calendar tampering, and in 46 BC Julius Caesar allowed the year to extend to 445 days, the “Year of Confusion,” until his new calendar reformed matters. It was called, ironically, the Julian Calendar.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, some Emperors continued holding riotous New Year’s celebrations, like “toga parties” but more authentic. In part to counter this activity, the Church established a holy day on January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, also known as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus for the name Jesus would have been conferred upon his circumcision. Down through the centuries, it is still observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and some Eastern Orthodox sects. The jury is still out on whether this has quieted New Year’s celebrations.
How do you celebrate New Year’s Day?
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
About the Author
Bill Petro is a high-tech sales enablement and marketing executive. Currently Data Center Sales Enablement Lead at Cisco. Extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Data Center, Information Storage, Virtualization, Mobile and Social technologies.
Article published on Bill Petro, Bridging the Gap from Strategy to Execution
Zodiac Daily Tip – December 31
Get daily horoscope tips to guide you through the day
The Moon conjuncts lucky Jupiter today. Later, on this last night of the year, the move from the old to the new could be quiet and sedate under a void-of-course Virgo Moon. Depending on your time zone, the lunar entry to Libra stimulates romantic sentiment before midnight.
What your Zodiac sign says about your personal life in the New Year
Here are a few predictions on the personal lives of the 12 zodiac signs for year 2016
As you prepare for the New Year, Horoscope.com brings you a few predictions on the personal lives of the 12 zodiac signs for year 2016
Aries: 2016 is prime time for you to take charge of your public image and excel at the work of your choice, Aries! It will need effort, but you’re up to the challenge. With the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Uranus all in Fire signs as your year begins, you have more energy and staying power than most. Springtime may test your patience, as Mars is retrograde from mid-April until the end of June. Polish your techniques and approaches then, and test out new ideas on a small scale. Respect physical limits and don’t over-commit in the late summer and early autumn. Resist the urge to sign up for too many events, gatherings, classes, or putting in too much overtime at work. Your health and well-being are just as important as any extra praise or profit you might receive. Look for insights about yourself and your many friends, especially as New Year’s Eve for 2017 approaches. In many ways, 2016 is magical as well as powerful for you!
Taurus: 2016 is the year for big, important changes, Taurus. You can reinvent yourself from the ground up if you so choose. People will see you differently this year, even if you change nothing. Be adaptable but firm, and be happy with yourself. March and April brings you some new people, and perhaps a shift in personal tastes and opinions. Keep what you like and shrug off the rest. A Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May lets you make any corrections that feel right. Radical changes may not be needed, though. You’ll see what works for you. In August and September this will be clear. Strong emotional bonds and karmic connections will keep you in touch with the right people, doing the right things. Don’t get over-ambitious, and prioritize your health. People love you. 2016 seems custom-built for Taurus, when you can do things at your own speed and make adjustments until you’re more comfortable with your life.
Gemini: You’re a rising star in 2016, Gemini, but it will keep constant effort to avoid slipping back down. Are you up for this? Of course you are! Your attention is zeroed in on making progress, getting and holding on to those things you love most, and on not being rushed into making decisions. This year, you will ask all the right questions and refuse to proceed without solid answers and information. The Mercury retrograde periods in May and then in September may be your most accomplished and solid times. September is especially potent. With Mercury in Virgo, you can easily self-correct and nudge situations and relationships to where you want them. Home life should bring much satisfaction, and possibly some karmic insights, particularly in September and October. Family mysteries may be solved, or resolved. Emotional ties and romance are empowered in November, but it may be December when you are the most intense, powerful, and effective. Mars and Saturn are both on your side as the year ends. You can do great things this year, Gemini!
Cancer: 2016 is your kind of year, Cancer, when you can turn on that moonlit charm of yours and make sure that the people in your life are the ones you want most! Family and friends are highlighted in all the best ways, with little or no extra stress or complications. Romance also is a strong point for you. Partners want to listen to you and make you happy. Let them make you their priority in 2016. There will be plenty of surprises and opportunities to grow and advance in the world. Raise some eyebrows in 2016 and make some new allies for your favorite causes. This will keep the springtime exciting and interesting. Mercury is retrograde in Earth signs this year. Take your time and build a firm foundation for the daily life that you want. The Solar Eclipse in March is in Pisces and may briefly create an emotional world, but you’ll cope better than most other signs. Don’t stress, respect your health, and enjoy a charmed year!
Leo: Let the world see more of the true you in 2016, Leo! Work hard at what you love and have more fun doing it. More people will enjoy working with you, and then your social life could be busier, too. The Mars retrograde period in the spring will help you slow down, focus, and keep your sights on what is most important. People may be trying to shake up your world all year long, especially around the Solar Eclipse in Pisces in March and the Lunar Eclipse in Pisces in September. Stay sure of yourself – you can handle it. Be good to yourself, too. Take care of your health, be active, and make good use of your time day by day. Start off with a firm daily routine – one you also enjoy – and it will take you through the whole year. Money and work opportunities are there for you, so work hard and make your mark. Make wise decisions at home and assume the authority that friends and family members are assigning to you. Just be your awesome Leo self!
Virgo: 2016 is brimming with bright new ideas, abundance, and charm, Virgo. Yes, I’m talking about you! They will be practical ideas, too, that you can put to good use and make progress in the work place, and connect with people who are both reasonable and pleasant. That’s how people see you, too. In the early spring, romantic fantasies may beckon from time to time. Enjoy the escapes, and come back refreshed. All four Mercury retrogrades happen in Earth signs, so you’ll be more comfortable than most people. In September, a Solar Eclipse in Virgo also puts you in the cosmic limelight. Be attentive in case more work opportunities arise. Early December is a powerful time for you, with Mars and Saturn working on your behalf. You may start the year in a modest position but you could easily become the one in charge by the end of 2016.
Libra: 2016 is your lucky year, Libra, in more ways than one. Your tact and social skills will be in high demand and this will bring great satisfaction and happiness. When everyone is working hard to get ahead, your talents will smooth the way and create more opportunities for your friends, family, and you. With all four Mercury retrogrades happening in Earth signs, most people will be zoned in on the nuts and bolts of life. Your softer social touch will come in handy, especially around the Lunar Eclipse in March when the Moon will be in Libra. People can still surprise you, mostly in April and May. Make some new friends and contacts now. Then forge stronger emotional bonds in May and June. Sharp thinking and an appreciation for something new could launch you into a new, better direction in September and October. Be thorough, and then trust your judgment. Make your own luck in November and December. Be ambitious and aim for the stars!
Scorpio: 2016 is your year to demolish any barriers that have been holding you back, Scorpio! With clear thinking and sheer force of will, you can accomplish what your heart desires and what your head knows you need. Have more patience and charm this year, too. This assures that more problems are solved than created and that you make more friends and allies than you risk losing. Your most productive time may be in the spring when Mars is retrograde in Scorpio. This slow, strong Mars will make you even more methodical and irresistible. Tenderness and tact are also highlighted skills for you in 2016. Be realistic and kind, especially in the late summer and early fall when Jupiter and Mercury increase your people skills. Watch as obstacles and opposition melt away under your gaze. It will be in the realm of family and friends that you may see the most progress. When things are going smoothly at home, career and public life are much easier. What a dynamite year!
Sagittarius: 2016 is your year, Sagittarius, to cultivate talents and skills that take you far and fast. You may not be given all the situations and opportunities that you choose right off the bat, but you’ll have more than enough resources and creativity to make the best use of everything that comes your way. The year may start slowly with Jupiter (your ruling planet) being retrograde until early May. After that, your personal energy and good luck should increase. Mars will be retrograde in the spring, but this won’t create any delays for you. In fact, you should be able to be more careful, and successful, in your work. People may like you better and you may be more willing to learn from them. Romance also comes your way this year. The Solar Eclipse in September is especially favorable for your health as well as for your love life. You will do great things all year long, Sagittarius!
Capricorn: This year, accomplish more than you can imagine, Capricorn, simply by sticking to your favorite mode of doing things: with slow steady efforts. It won’t involve anything flashy or earth-shaking. Nor will you become a dull robot! Achievements, small and large, will give you the most satisfaction in 2016, and those things will not be purely about money or prestige. Let yourself feel deeply about everything and everyone you love. Your year officially starts on December 21, 2015, with a sensuous Taurus Moon, and with Venus in secretive sexy Scorpio. A lot of this year’s love may not be outwardly expressed. Relax but pay attention. Little gestures and hints will be important all year. Four Mercury retrogrades happen in 2016. The first one is in January and will mostly be in Capricorn. You can competently do just about anything, and get it right the first time. The fourth Mercury retrograde starts in late December and runs into the beginning of 2017. This is also in Capricorn. You’re organized, so it will be OK. Finish the year as marvelously as you started it!
Aquarius: You’re a rising star in 2016, Aquarius, when all hard work is acknowledged and rewarded. Most of your work will be mental, and you will never lack for brilliant ideas, many of them seeming inconsequential at the time. This year you will recognize potential that others may overlook. The Moon-Saturn opposition in your 2016 chart guarantees careful thinking and planning that won’t let you down. A Mercury-Pluto conjunction will give you the nerve to be bold, but only when it’s wise. Love issues and your social life will loom large, keeping you busy and happy in beautiful surroundings with charming people. Take your rightful place and shine. An appetite for knowledge and adventure may come out of nowhere, and you will find practical ways to satisfy these yearnings. Your 2016 strong Mars in Scorpio won’t let you sit still for long. Career progress this year is steady, and can gradually lead to big success. Saturn in Sagittarius is your friend. Embrace it!
Pisces: 2016 is a power year, Pisces, and most of what you do will happen out in public, in plain view, and probably with the help and cooperation of others. Your circle of friends and partners will grow, starting in January and February. You won’t feel lonely in 2016. Feel more bold about money, possessions, and your own body in the springtime. Consult your intuitions and instincts as a way to look before you leap into unfamiliar territory – but be brave. Later in April, May, and June, when Mars is retrograde, your mental focus and health will be less impacted than other signs. Enjoy a period of emotional calm. You know how to feel intense without showing it all the time. A Solar Eclipse in March may stir events in your world, but you’ll be prepared. The Lunar Eclipse in Pisces in September is more emotional. The Mercury-Venus conjunction in your 2016 chart is a gift that keeps you smart, sharp, and sensitive all year long.
What your Zodiac sign says about love life for singles in the New Year
Here are a few predictions for singles in year 2016