In the United States there are many different celebrations and customs that take place every year. Some of these traditions have ties to colonial life in North America before the United States Came into existence. One ancient New Year's custom was to make as much noise as possible to scare evil spirits away from the coming new year. By the 1700's colonists in America were continuing this tradition with cheers, shouting and using noisemakers on New Year's Eve. These kinds of traditions, along with lighting firecrackers, continue to the present day. American celebrations for the New Year begin on the night of December 31. Many people attend parties where at midnight they make noise, cheer, clap, kiss one another and sing an old Scottish song, "Auld Lang Syne".
The month of January is named for the Roman god, Janus. He is pictured with two faces one looking forward and one looking backward. This symbolizes the connection with both the ending of the old year and the beginning the new one. In America we use different symbols to represent the same things. An old man with a beard usually symbolizes the old year and a baby in diapers the new one.
George Washington began the custom of holding a party on New Year's Day where everyone was welcome. This became known as having an "open house" and is still done in many places today.
Regional foods help welcome the New Year in various parts of America. In Pennsylvania Dutch country, eating sauerkraut on New Year's Day is said to bring good luck. In the South the custom is to eat black-eyed peas.
Gathering with family and friends to watch parades and football games, either in person or on television, are important New Year's Day activities for many Americans. Lots of Bowl games are featured where the top teams from various colleges and universities play one another. Parades, such as the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, are usually connected to the football bowl games. The Rose Parade is the best known of all New Year's parades. A tradition since 1886, it has hundreds of floats, each covered with fresh flowers. Another famous parade is the Mummers' Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. String bands wearing ornate costumes and huge headdresses perform elaborate marching routines during the parade.
Making New Year's resolutions is a modern approach to keeping evil away during the New Year. People decide to improve their lives by making promises to do good things or not to do bad things. New Year's Resolutions are one way to promise yourself, your family or friends that you will do one or more things differently. Resolutions can be the beginning of setting goals for the New Year. Of course it's always easier to make a resolution than keep it. Keeping it is hard work.in fact it is impossible. Repentance and the power of Jesus in our lives is what really can change us.
Does the Bible have anything to declare regarding New Years? When starting to investigate answers to that question it is important to realize that there are two primary calendars in the Bible. The first is called the civil calendar and is used in the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Exodus 12. The first month in the civil calendar is Tishrei. Rosh HaShanah , the Jewish New Year, the first day in the civil calendar, is the beginning of the New Year. The second calendar in the Bible is the religious calendar. The religious calendar is used from Exodus 12 through to Revelation 22. GOD established the religious calendar in Exodus during the lifetime of Moses.
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." Exodus 12:2
The month that GOD was referring to was the month of Aviv, which is now called the month of Nisan. Prior to GOD's establishing the month of Nisan as the first month in the religious calendar, it was the seventh month in the civil calendar. GOD gave the religious calendar so there could be understanding of the Feasts of Israel, which He gave and which are His appointed times and foreshadow important events in the life of Jesus and also illustrate GOD's plan with regard to our redemption.
Why did GOD have two calendars? One interesting possibility for understanding why GOD gave a civil calendar and a religious calendar is that everyone who accepts the Jesus into his heart by faith experiences two birthdays. Just like Tishrei 1 is the first day on the civil calendar and Nisan 1 is the first day on the religious calendar, everyone who accepts Jesus into his life has a physical (civil) birthday when he was born into the world and a spiritual (religious) birthday the day he accepts the LORD into his life.
As any New Year approaches we can take stock of our condition and position with the LORD. Some serious meditation could be taken with regard to who and what we are and who and what GOD is. We will survive forever, somewhere, but our time here on earth, in our present condition is most definitely limited. The Psalm below is a good place to begin in meditating on our lives and our LORD. Read the passage over a few times and let it really sink into the very pores of your soul.
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret [sins] in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. Psalm 90
All of us have a finite time remaining to do whatever we do. For the most part we can choose how that time is spent, and what we spend it on.but time is definitely flying by. GOD has plans for you. Find out what he has in store for you. Go to HIM. Search HIM out. His plans for you are better than your plans for you!