What Does the New Year Mean to You?

By Lisa Sugarman

New Year’s. Just the sound of it awakens an electric kind of excitement, doesn’t it? After all, it’s a day when we get to look back and reflect at the exact same time that we’re anticipating what lies ahead. Such an incredibly cool moment.

Of course we’ve got our standard New Year’s elements like fireworks and the ball dropping, kissing at midnight, and a new year’s worth of unlimited possibilities—all great traditions. But let’s not forget that we’ve also got a big, ginormous Mulligan, also known as another chance to make our dreams and goals come true.New Year's fireworks with champagne

And at the very same time that New Year’s is all of those things, it’s also one of the only days of the year—a lot like Thanksgiving—that crosses party lines and represents so many of the same things to so many people everywhere.

Every year, it comes, so dependably and right on cue, and brings with it the same opportunity for every one of us to evolve, to reinvent who we are, and reaffirm what we want out of ourselves. It offers each one of us a completely new, sparkly clean slate to write on any way we choose. And, it has the unique ability to mean something very different to so many people, regardless of who we are or how we celebrate the milestone.

To some of us, it symbolizes an end and a beginning all in one single moment. It allows us to evaluate the stuff that worked for us during the last year of our lives and purge ourselves of the attitudes and habits that didn’t. Pretty epic stuff, as far as I’m concerned.

I mean, no matter what any of us has going on in our lives, we all have the ability to use New Year’s as a giant Refresh button. Whether it’s a habit we need to break or a mindset we need to adjust or some muscle mass we need to build, New Year’s is there to symbolize the start line. How we toe that line, though, is entirely up to us. And therein lies the beauty. We all get to choose for ourselves how we use the gift of the New Year.2011-year-resolution-400x400

It’s one single day that allows for one hundred percent individual interpretation of how we should move forward, in spite of the fact that everyone on the planet is simultaneously celebrating the same thing. And that’s what I love about it; there’s no official guidebook or guideline for how to treat the day—we get to revel in it and experience it in whatever way best suits each of us.

Now granted, every culture puts their own unique twist on how they celebrate New Year’s, including celebrating it at very different times of the year. Like, for instance, how my people—the Jews—consider Rosh Hashanah our New Year and we welcome it around September/October. And how we usher it in by tossing pieces of stale bread into the ocean to symbolize casting off our transgressions. Or how in Thailand a special three-day water festival in mid-April marks Songkran, the Buddhists’ celebration of the New Year. When, as a symbol of purification, everyone is doused with water as a way of showing respect and bringing good fortune. Or, how the Vietnamese New Year, Tet, usually begins in February and is celebrated by getting new clothes and haircuts and discouraging all thoughts of sadness. (I love that one.)

But even in spite of all the different types of celebrations around the world, most everyone pretty much acknowledges December 31st as a day to collectively blow horns and make resolutions and set goals. And it’s that goal-setting piece that I’m most fond of because it can be whatever we need it or want it to be.new-years-resolutions1

The ironic thing is, though, that every one of us has the ability to transform any day into New Year’s Day and we can treat it any way we want to. Oh yeah, and if you wanna really get technical, New Year’s doesn’t even have to be on December 31st or any of the other designated dates. Not if you subscribe to the old Today is the first day of the rest of your life idea. Because in that case, the essence of New Year’s can be executed any time you feel like you need a change.

Just do me a favor, okay, don’t start blabbing that to everyone cause it’ll spoil the holiday for the whole world and then the last day in December will be just another day of the year. Keep it under your hat that we can actually make resolutions and change stuff whenever we want. People like the magicalness of a holiday.

Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.











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