it's a new year all the time

lately, i’ve been really grabbing onto holidays (as memes) to create opportunities to open up conversation with folks around me about underlying assumptions about the world. what holidays a group celebrates says a lot about their culture and meaning-making frames.

the latest example has been the start of 2020. most people on that day say “happy new year!” and that’s true. it is the start of the new year… in the gregorian calendar. but there are actually lots of other new year’s:

when we invisibilize the fact that our society’s major institutions run on the gregorian calendar, the fact that that was a choice gets obscured. the fact that we could, in theory, at any time, choose differently, fades from sight.

so i’ve been specifically using the phrase “happy gregorian new year” since january 1. the convos that have popped up are amazing. some folks who also have their lives guided by another calendar (like the many jewish folks in my life) are relieved that someone else sees their struggle. “wow thank you for saying it that way! jan 1 means nothing to me but rosh hashanah is everything, but of course most people don’t think about it at all.”

using this language, i’ve also had some conversations about the arbitrariness of jan 1 as it relates to real markers of change. for example, the solstices and equinoxes are rooted in physical reality: the longest and shortest days/nights on the planet based on its movement through space in relationship to the sun. why don’t we have calendars more based on something tangible? what is the gregorian calendar even based on? i would bet that something like 80%+ of people living in america don’t know.

anyway, here’s to remembering that the gregorian calendar is a choice some folks made a long time ago and we could choose again if we wanted!

ps - i know there are more. feel free to help me out (comment on this post or email me).

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