Posted January 02, 2015 in Word Made Flesh:
Why Wish Anyone a Happy New Year?

by Fr. Pat McNulty.

Haaaappy New Year!

Uhhh, I don’t go for all that silly "Happy New Year" stuff.

Oooooh, a little "Bah Humbug" in there somewhere? I thought we did that one already.

It’s not "Bah Humbug ."It’s just the whole idea. I mean, who decided all this time stuff? When I was 18, I knew I wasn’t 65, and now that I’m over 65, I know I’m not 18. I don’t need a clock or a calendar to tell me that: my body does it very well, thank you.

So, what time did you get up this morning?


What time did you get up this morning!

Same time as I did yesterday, 5:30 AM—jiss like I have since I was ten years old.

And how did you know it wasn’t 3:30 AM or 10:30 PM? Who told you it was 5:30, your body or the alarm?

Sometimes my poor ole body tells me, and sometimes I do need a little help from the alarm. But generally when it’s time ta git up, I git up, and when it’s time ta go ta bed, I go ta bed. But I don’t need ta know what time it is all day long, all year long beginning with some made-up new year.

Well, my life is not about "tick tocks" or digital flashes either, but the whole idea of measuring things, like time, has some very practical aspects which help us live and function from one sunrise to the next, day after day, year after year, too.

Your body might tell you you’re not 18 anymore, but if you didn’t have some measured way of remembering and celebrating events in your life from age 1 to 18 or 65, birthdays for example, you would soon enough not have any memories at all. That sounds like death to me, not life.

Maybe so, but that still don’t tell me who started the whole thing, how they decided ta start countin’ on January 1st. Personally I’d prefer June the 1st myself and have the year go from summer to summer instead of winter to winter.

Well, if you go on the Internet and type in the word, "time," you’ll find a mountain of information.

But, in the end it really began quite naturally, quite normally when people became aware of how the periods of light and darkness were sometimes longer and sometimes shorter and how that affected lots of things in their lives.

They learned early on that there is a better time to plant and a better time to sow and a time when it’s best to do neither. They called those times seasons.

And it didn’t take too long for them to realize that there were certain things you couldn’t do in the dark. So you scheduled them, timed them, to be done when there was light.

So from the beginning the notion of time had a very practical, how-to-live aspect about it.

Yeah, and they ended up worshipin’ the sun and the moon! The way I look at it, there ain’t no "practical, how-to-live aspect" about that.

At least they realized there was something mysterious, unknowable, beyond the sun and the moon, and that was probably humanity’s first natural response of reverence to the "mystery" of all creation.

Maybe they did take it to excess and fall into idolatry, but we’ve gone to the opposite extreme: for us there is no mystery. We idolize our own thoughts about everything because, in the end, we think there are no unknowables.

At least they respected the mystery by celebrating it regularly, and those celebrations were timed by the sun and the moon, by the seasons, by rains and dryness, by life and death, fostering a sense of mystery.

But didn’t Jesus come to get rid of all that false worship and nature stuff?

Well actually it was a stroke of spiritual genius that the early Christians did not destroy those "nature" celebrations. Instead they embraced them and wrapped them all up in the mystery of the Incarnation, of God-become-Man in Time.

Now everything points beyond our limited sense and experience of nature to something more profound than the position of the sun or moon, the winds and the rain.

Now everything in the life of Christ, in human history, and in my personal history, is part of salvation history.

And now my birth, my life, my death, and everything in between is more wonderful, more important, more mysterious than all of creation put together, because now, everything about me, about you, is fulfilled in the mystery of God become Man in Time.


Christ did not become a sun or a moon, the wind or the rain or a tree or a diamond! Christ became like me, like you, a living person in time, in the flesh.

As so when we remember and celebrate the events of His life, He reveals to us something about Time that is no longer measured by the sun or the moon, the winds and the rains, though we still live under those cycles.

Now our natural sense of time points to the deeper reality of time being part of eternity.

And now, in Christ, at any moment in Time, we can start all over again, start a completely new life. A new year, as a new beginning, brings to mind that every moment can be a moment of beginning again. And celebrating that helps us remember it during the rest of the year.

So when we Christians say, "Happy New Year," we’re talking about something far beyond fireworks, dress-up parties, and balloons.

Every holiday and feastday helps us to remember something. And that’s why it’s important that we wish each other "Happy Birthday," "Happy Anniversary," "Happy New Year," Otherwise one day we might even forget to remember God!

Hey, all I wanted ta know was who started it, Reverend, I wasn’t lookin’ fer a biblical interpretation of the whole Farmer’s Almanac.

Sorry about that, but sometimes I think even Christian people forget the real significance of Time.

Here we are, with all our timely feasts, and holy days, and celebrations throughout the year which God has given us so that we keep the mystery of it all ever before our eyes, so we never forget to remember that we can always start anew.

However, if all you really want are the boring facts (Ho Hum) … .

In the old Roman calendar March 15th, the beginning of spring, was the day which began the new year, but for political and military reasons, the Romans re-dedicated the beginning to the deity Janus who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward and named it January.

The new calendar was named "the Julian Calendar" after the emperor Julius Caesar. It was widely used throughout western Europe, until it was revised by an Italian astronomer.

The use of this reformed calendar was commanded by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and named after him—the Gregorian calendar. The new calendar focused on the events in the life of Christ beginning on January 1st eight days after His birth which was celebrated on December 25th

The Gregorian is the most widely used calendar in the world today.


Didn’t I warn you? Anyhow, Haaappy New Year!


If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!


Restoration Contents

Next article:
Nazareth: The School of Love

Previous article:
One Man's Scrap, Another Man's Gold (December 2014)



RSS 2.0RSS feed

Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate