Happy New Year! Actually – I am a few weeks late. You see, Christians have their own calendar for the year. The study of calendars is an interesting tale, and one I won’t elaborate on here. Calendars help us understand time and the flow of life. If you change the calendar, you change how you understand life. For example, the Roman new year was in the middle of March; this makes sense from a “seasons” perspective (the beginning of Spring). Julius Caesar, when he codified the calendar, made January 1 the date of the new year. When Christ came (about 50 years after Julius Caesar), Christians quickly began to re-examine how they understood time. We celebrate Good Friday, the resurrection, Christ’s ascension, and the season of Pentecost. The “Christian year” begins with Advent: the four Sundays before Christmas. We understand time itself to be a reflection of the life of Christ.
This year, the Christian calendar began on December 2. We begin each new year looking forward to the coming of Christ into the world. This reminds us to continue to long for His second coming, when He will return and set the world right. This is what we long for, deep in our hearts. After Christmas, there are twelve days until Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the Magi (and is where we get the song “12 Days of Christmas”). For Christians, the days after Christmas are not a downer that the season has ended; these days signify the beginning of Christ revealing who He is to the world. Like the Magi, we come and adore Him. Later, we will observe Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent, when many Christians prepare for Good Friday with fasting and prayer. This season ends with the feast and celebration of Easter (or Pascha).
There is much more to the Christian calendar, of course. But I wanted to highlight a few elements because calendars help us see life – and time – differently. If you are a Christian, you are part of a global family with incredible insights and traditions, even including the calendar. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!