Did you know that there are some 5 new year celebrations in Judaism?
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If we consider that any celebration occurring on an annual cycle represents the start of another year, then each time we start a new cycle we are, in fact, celebrating a “new year.” Therefore, when we count Jewish annual cycles, we have the two best-known harvest festivals (Shavuot and Sukkot), also the month of Aviv (now called Nissan) as the beginning of our biblical year (per God’s instructions to Moses in Exodus 12:1), Yom Kippur is another annual cycle starting a year with being cleansed of our sins, and finally, Rosh HaShanah which is not a biblical new year, but is the rabbinical rebranding, if you will, of Yom Teruah.
In the secular world, the 1st day of January is the recognized, “official” New Year’s Day.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….uh, no… not that one.
Once upon a time, a long time ago someone somehow decided that the first day of January on the Gregorian calendar would be the start of every year. I know there are people out there who will tell me exactly who did this and when, and that it is a pagan holiday and so a real Believer shouldn’t pay it any attention. And for everyone who says it is pagan, there will be someone who says it isn’t. I am not interested in the history of the New Year, really, or whether or not it should be celebrated.
So, nu? If I don’t care about it, why am I even mentioning it?
Good question. I am mentioning it to point out that there are multiple new year events, and what we need is not a new year, but a new beginning. A day when we start our lives over and change that which we were yesterday into that which we want to become tomorrow.
And what day should this be? It should be…today.
Every day is a New Year’s Day, a day to become not just more of who we want to be, but more of who God wants us to be!
I don’t want to sound like that old, wimpy adage, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” because that is associated with our personal (meaning secular) growth. Now, there is nothing wrong with personal growth, but what we need to do as Believers is to grow spiritually, and that shouldn’t be relegated to an annual thing. It must be daily, hourly, and continually throughout the rest of our life.
Celebrating an event like New Year’s Day is fine in a secular world, but for those who are spiritual, we can’t be restricted to a single day when we start over. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we are a new creation, and we are, but that isn’t the end of it: no, that is just the beginning. Now that we are new, we have to grow into our new selves, and that is a never-ending process which means every day is a new year for us.
Let’s up the stakes on this discussion…God is eternal, and the holiday we know as New Year’s Day is not eternal- it is restricted by time as once every 365 days. But spiritual growth is not subject to a timeline because things of the spirit are eternal; each day is a new eternity. Why? Because we never know when we will be called to God, so whatever we are today is what we might be, forever.
That’s a bit of a scary thought, isn’t it? The Bible tells us that no one knows when they will die and as such, whoever we are now, right this minute, might be all we will ever be for all eternity!
So, celebrate the new year in January, but don’t let that be your only starting point for change. Celebrate every new day God gives you as your own, “New Eternity Day” and let your resolution be this: to be a better example of what God wants you to be today than you were yesterday.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!