January 1st always seems to usher in a whole slew of resolutions, but then there are also those folks who’ve tried resolutions on the first of each year, but found the system wanting.  Many people still believe, however, that the new year is a great time to start fresh, leaving the old year behind.

I myself am a bit leery of announcing my resolutions.  Kind of like birthday wishes, I don’t want to jinx myself by letting everyone know my intentions for the year 2012.  I am starting school at Northwestern University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in creative writing January 5th so I suppose people will be able to guess one resolution regarding writing the first draft of a novel.  I like to excel at whatever I undertake.  Desire to be the best propels me forward.

But I must mention that I spoke with a good friend earlier today, and when I sheepishly told him about another resolution to learn Italian, he cautioned me gently, saying that I do have a bit of a habit of taking on too much with too many competing interests and goals.  Much as I hate to admit it, I do tend to pursue many goals in contradictory directions so I’m shelving the intention to learn Italian until I know how difficult my coursework will be for grad school.

It does strike me as somewhat arbitrary and odd to begin anew right in the midst of winter.  Logically, I would think March or April might be a better time for resolutions, but the powers that be must have had access to knowledge that I don’t have.  It does seem a propos to kickstart anew right after Jesus’ birthday. 

There remain some questions, however, as to when Jesus’ birthday really was.  Many say the wisemen wouldn’t have travelled afar in winter, but would have come to meet their Savior sometime in the early spring even though the angel who came to them announcing Jesus’ birth in a stable might compel them to take on such a journey.  Even if his birthday were in the winter, however, there is also the question of the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in terms of how we count time.  When the last of those adherring to the Julian calendar switched over, they had to drop thirteen days so that accounts for some confusion over the exact day of Jesus’ birth. 

The winter solstice was traditionally celebrated in late December by pagans, and it is theorized that the early adherents of Christianity wanted to convert pagans, and it seemed easier to do if they drew in one of the pagan holidays.  Even the Christmas tree was co-opted from its origins in early German festivals of mid-winter.

I guess the point may be that it must a good thing to start fresh in the midst of one of the most challenging seasons or we wouldn’t do it.  If we are tough enough to survive winter, then perhaps our goals won’t seem so unreachable.  Regardless, let me wish everyone a happy, peaceful new year with the promise of newness.