Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Many New Year celebrations left in 2019

January 1, 2019

Apart from in June and July, it would seem that New Year is celebrated somewhere in every month of the year.


Seven years of plenty from March 2015?

December 31, 2014

Tomorrow is just another day, the first day of the month we call January after the two-headed (two-faced?) Roman God Janus. The day is just another day of the 365 ¼ days the Earth takes to orbit the Sun. The first day of January as the start of another orbit is an arbitrary choice and does not coincide with any special position of the Earth or the Sun. It is 9 – 10 days after the winter solstice and the lag can be put down to the fact that the solar cycle giving the year is not a nice, clean, simple multiple of the lunar cycle giving our months. The months of course have been massaged to have a variable number of days to make 12 months fit to a year.  In Roman times, the year started on March 1st of a 10 month year. The ten months were clearly too short for the solar year, and the 50 or so days between the end of December and the start of March were acknowledged but empty and unnamed. January and February were added later to complete the solar year.

But in spite of being just another day, the 1st of January is important, not because of the Earth’s position but because humans need to be able to draw a line and start anew. For most it has been a bad year or, at best, just another ordinary year. For only a very few has it been a “good” year. We crave something to look forward to, to better times. And what better way to define the end of a period and a renewal than the start of a New Year.

A year ago on 1st January 2014, I hadn’t heard about ISIS or IS. The video of the beheading of James Foley has been – for me – the single most disgusting clip of 2014. Human behaviour continues to vary from the sublime to the barbarous. My contempt for organised religion has only increased during the year. Every case of religious violence can be traced back to a rabid mullah or imam or priest or rabbi. Islamic barbarism has distinguished itself – again. My image of 2014 is dominated by barbarous Islamic extremists. The heights of Islamic culture and poetry and art and science have long since gone and we are now seeing the depths of behaviour Islam (among other religions) can inspire. But there has been too much talk about “human rights” and not enough about corresponding “human duties”. We continue down the misguided road of legislating for human behaviour.  The rich/poor divide has widened but politicians forget that this is because the poor lack the education and the opportunity to escape the poverty trap. It is not because the rich have taken from the poor as they would like to pretend. And yet global poverty and famine and malnourishment and homelessness have declined. Politicians have vacillated as usual. Barack Obama has not lived up to the high expectations he once inspired and the new Pope Francis is on a cheap popularity quest. Courage is not particularly visible. A new economic cold war between the EU and the US against Russia has started. There are no political leaders in Europe and the EU is becoming a bureaucratic monstrosity. China and India have been unable to be the motors for global growth.

The World Cup came and went. FIFA was shown -again – to be a deeply corrupt organisation. India demonstrated that frugal engineering could allow space to be within the reach of those not so well off. Big Science – exemplified by CERN – applies a bureaucratic rather than an innovative approach to Science. Science by press releases to secure funding is more important than thinking out of the box (which cannot get published). Peer review is more pal review or even self-review. There is more ice at the poles than for 40 years. There is more ice at the Antarctic than ever measured before. Oil price has dropped spectacularly as shale oil production has increased and demand has declined. We have a year of low fuel prices ahead. In 2014 there were many small but no major volcanic eruptions or earthquakes or tsunamis. A VEI5+ volcano eruption is now well overdue. The internet and internet English and internet crime are all still growing. War is increasingly being privatised and outsourced. In a post-modern world, political correctness is becoming obsolete.

All in all, just another ordinary year.

The astrological pundits tell me that a period of unprecedented antithetical planetary positions since the 1930’s started in 2008. Apparently planets were “opposed” to each other or at “right angles” to each other or were “antagonistic”. The financial crisis – they are quick to point out – began in 2008 and reached its depths in 2013 in accord with the antagonistic alignments! In any event these unpropitious alignments come to an end in March 2015.

The end of seven lean years perhaps and the start of seven years of plenty?

As they say here, “ett gott slut och ett gott nytt”. I wish all a

A Good End and a Good Start


And so to 2014

January 1, 2014

“Happy New Year” is a greeting which is perhaps the one with least meaning. The best part of 7 billion people will wish others Happiness and Prosperity and all things Nice this 1st of January. If only wishes led to a behaviour consistent with the expressed wishes!

We could choose any day of our rotation around the Sun as being the start of a new rotation. The adoption of January 1st only dates back to the sixteenth century and is pretty wide-spread though the start of a New Year is still celebrated by some at various times in January, March, April, June and the autumn.

Once more around the Sun we’ve come and the start of another rotation,

Twenty fourteen we name it, of the five billions since creation.

Fireworks, champagne and goodwill galore,

And it’s been a hundred years since the First World War,

But nothing’s new under the Sun and what’s happened before will happen again.

And though I’m not sure what it means, I wish you all

A Happy and Prosperous New Year


Greetings for the In-between days

December 27, 2013

A God Fortsättning, a God Slut and a Gott Nytt År to you all!

In most instances English has a much richer vocabulary than Swedish does – but when it comes to greetings during the festive season, Swedish wins hands down. The nuances of available greetings are just not available in English. Perhaps because there was a greater need for nuance during the long and cold and dark winters.

In Sweden the days between Christmas and the New Year are called the In-between days (mellandagarna) and immediately after Christmas it is no longer appropriate to use Merry Christmas (God Jul) as the greeting. It shifts to God Fortsättning which can only be translated as A Good Continuation. But it is also quite common to wish people a God Slut during this time. But this is also a nuance of greeting that Swedish has which does not appear in English. The literal translation of God Slut in English would be Have a good ending which may be taken to be somewhat morbid or an invitation to take hemlock!  Have a good ending to the Year is a little too long and doesn’t trip of the tongue as well and as succinctly as God Slut. Of course it is perfectly permissible to use Gott Nytt ÅrGood New Year – during the In-between days.

The In-between days run from December 26th to December 30th.

Clearly God Jul cannot be used after 25th December and God Slut cannot be used after 31st December but God fortsättning can. In theory God fortsättning can be used at any time. I have even heard it used at Advent and during the vacation period in July (when Sweden is closed). But I have heard it most often during the In-between days and then for the first 2 or 3 weeks of January. Gott Nytt År can be used well into February – especially if it is the first meeting of the Year.

And so during these In-between days,

God fortsättning! followed by a

God Slut! and a

Gott Nytt År!

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