|Gas station calendar|
from my hometown, with a
New Year's theme.
Since I’m a teacher, I think of the autumn months as the beginning of my life’s yearly rhythms. I started kindergarten in September 1962, and thereafter, except for two years, late summer has been for me the start of a school year, either as a student or an instructor. It's a familiar and reliable pattern: teachers and students return to school after the summer; the fall semester progresses, winter arrives, and then the spring (not only a season but a semester). After spring, the year rounds out with the renewing months of summer before school starts again. No one sings “Auld Lang Syne” in the autumn, unless they really like that song, I suppose…. but still, I do love the fall-through-summer pattern of life.
The pattern works in a more formal religious way. The first Sunday of Advent—falling in late autumn and traditionally marking a time of introspection and renewal—is the beginning of the Christian calendar. Jews begin their year with the ten-day period of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur earlier in the fall. During those “Days of Awe” (Yamim Noraim), a person does honest soul searching, corrects the previous year’s wrongs if possible, and starts fresh. The year’s cycle of Torah readings draws to a close. The brand-new year brings opportunities for good deeds and renewed devotion—a much better orientation than the ephemeral New Year’s resolutions that many of us try.
Even though my birthday is in early January---and so my own years and the calendar years are virtually the same----I still tend to think of January 1 as just another ol' winter day----a holiday for businesses---in the middle of a three-week pause between the first third of the actual year (fall semester) and the second third (spring semester). Alternately, January 1 is about a month into the actual Christian year----the 7th day of Christmastide.
These are just my feelings----a teacher's feelings. Fortunately the world didn't end on December 21st, at the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted. Otherwise, I wouldn't be blogging this....