Celebration of each new year dates to at least the ancient Babylonian empire. According to the Babylonians celebrated on the first new moon following the vernal equinox. This coincided with their barley harvest. The festival, known as Akitu, lasted for eleven days during which the Babylonians celebrated their sky god, Marduk. The Egyptian new year was heralded by the flooding of the Nile while China celebrated the second new moon after winter solstice. Our traditional New Year’s Day came from early Rome. Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar in about 46 B.C. and adjusted it to synchronize with the sun. He proclaimed January 1as the first day of the year in honor of the Roman God Janus, their god of beginnings. When we offer each other best wishes for a Happy New Year! What exactly does that mean?

To be “happy” is to feel pleasure or contentment, to be satisfied. Depending upon circumstances there can be a great deal of satisfaction in completing another year of life. There more likely will be a great deal of reflection upon how the previous year could have been much better. The new year brings renewed hope that the year ahead of us will bring opportunities and greater blessing than the last. We must be careful what we wish for. “Surely oppression destroys a wise man’s reason, And a bribe debases the heart. The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools. Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:7-10 NKJV)

God’s blessings indeed bring happiness. “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, …” (Deuteronomy 33:29a NKJV) “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17 NKJV) “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; …” (Psalm 127:4-5a NKJV) “When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.” (Psalm 128:2 NKJV) It is not wrong to desire God’s blessings for ourselves, our families, or for others. (Genesis 28) I wish God’s blessings for you in this New Year!

(KEN FLEEMAN 1/2/2022)

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