Whether you’re a world-renowned archaeologist, one who’s hoping to be, or, like most, keen and happy to imbibe the past for its own sake, we here at world headquarters [‘kay, it’s just me] wish you a scintillating, surprising, satisfying new year. Unfortunately, the anthropologist in me wishes to acknowledge that the timing of such a greeting is problematic, and requires a historical perspective and the realization that one is bound up in one’s own culture. Thus, my greeting must be regarded as being given in the spirit of renewal, and not necessarily anchored in some historically contingent time-keeping system.
O’ course, the precise moment to celebrate has been a moveable feast even the brief span of European history. Depending on when in the past couple of thousand years you lived, you might have celebrated the new year either on January 1st or at the vernal equinox, and either using the Julian or the Gregorian calendar. And, while by tradtion it’s been January 1st for several centuries if you’re English, when you celebrate tonight, try and remember that some people’s years aren’t quite finished yet, and some have already passed into the future.
The now-almost universal celebration takes place in conjunction with the Gregorian calendar, and will occur at 00:00 UTC January 1, 2013. However, the Persian New Year, Nowruz [nouˈɾuːz], celebrating the solar year 1392 SH [unless you follow the Shah’s calendar], will be celebrated at the upcoming vernal equinox, which takes place at 11:02 am Universal Time on March 20th, 2013. And, if your forbears used a lunar calendar, as is the case in China, you’ll celebrate the advent of the year the snake on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 16:21:00 UTC, 2013 of the Gregorian calendar [whether or not you follow a continuous numbering system based on the reign of the Yellow Emperor]. And, if you’re Jewish, you’ve already celebrated the coming of the year 5773, at sunset on September 17, 2012 [strictly dependent on sunset in your time zone, I think].
So, Happy New Year whoever you are, and wherever you are, and whenever you are.
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