Sunday, February 1, 2009

I agree with the Chinese



The Jewish and Pagan new years, falling as they do in autumn, never made sense to me. When the energy is moving inwards and downwards, and when everything is dying, when the earth grows still and cold and dark, it does not feel like a new year to me.

The Christian/secular new year makes more sense, symbolically at least. Winter solstice is a dramatic shift back towards the light, though as far as my body can tell, there's no difference between solstice and the weeks ahead in terms of cold, dark and quiet.

As a doula, I've witnessed many human births. They are not quiet, dark, cold experiences - just the opposite. There's sound and noise and lots of action, lots of heat, sweat and light, when a baby comes into this world. The Persians celebrate the new year at spring equinox, a time (at my latitude, at least) that corresponds to the bursting upwards and outwards energy of human birth.

For my money, though, I think the Chinese got this one right. Chinese New Year occurs close to the first of February, give or take a few days. Where I live, the beginning of February is a time when the lengthening daylight is at last unmistakable. Here in the midatlantic U.S., it's the time when doves begin to coo. I think they must sense the quickening of spring that's right around the corner, and are ready to get working on their messy nests.

The light is returning! Winter will not last forever! Happy New Year, ya'll!

27 comments:

runmotman said...

love your shadow/brick picture. It will climb up into the 30's today here...a heat wave, and i can hear birds outside .. maybe spring is nearing! Happy bday tommorrow by the way.

Shaista said...

Is it your birthday tomorrow? Happy Day for you!
My mother is Zoroastrian so we shall also be celebrating the Parsi New Year on March 21 :) which makes for lots of special months, lots of different greetings and hopefully a year that feels well loved!

Reya Mellicker said...

The birds are going haywire here in DC, too (not just the doves).

Shaista, my birthday is Friday the 13th (this year as well as the year I was born). Good luck or bad luck? I always choose good luck. Why not?

runmotman said...

i thought is was the 2nd.. oh well ... mine is a day after yours.

Coffee Messiah said...

Luck is a matter of perception, otherwise, the "label" means nothing in the scheme of things ; )

The Chinese, have done much that makes a lot of sense, despite short cuts in other areas.

When I embraced acupuncture, rather than medicine for an accident while on the job years ago, I was in....

Here's looking forward to Spring
; )

Elizabeth said...

Yeah for the returning of the light.
Literal and metaphorical.
I can't help thinking that despite economic woes etc that people are turning a little away from utter materialism and enjoying pleasures such as connecting via internet, mature, poetry, books - all sort of things we can all share

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Friday 13th is good.My son chose to be married on Friday 13th.
All best wishes

kathi said...

Good morning! This is one of your very best photos! I spent several minutes just taking in the view! You've caught the hope and light so well. "Spring has sprung, the grass is green, I wonder where the flowers have been?"

Won't be long!
Happy Birthday!

kathi said...

I was born on Friday the 13th of August. I love it when my birthday is on a Friday! No superstitions for me! :)

Joanne said...

We're expecting another nor'easter here in New England all day Tuesday as the snow piles up! Hope that groundhog tomorrow predicts spring is just around the corner.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Could it be that a quiet period of reflection, of hibernation, is crucial to growth, to opening, to blooming?

Patricia said...

The photo of the reflections is absolutely amazing! I love the idea of posting favorite poetry as well.

Lovely site!

The Family Julz said...

The New Year is so exciting!

We've been watching the squirrels go nuts (so to speak) filling up on acorns lately. Winter is almost gone!

Less than a month and it's time for spring planting!

Hilarywho said...

Hi Reya - I enjoy celebrating the winter solstice, but I think it would make sense for the new year to begin in Spring. When that is though depends on where you live - here in Michigan it's not till May, and it only lasts for about a week! BTW, you're the second doula I know.

Bee said...

My husband and I took a (cold!) walk at twilight today . . . and we were thrilling at the noticeably longer day. The end of January is always a turning point, as you say; no matter what cold weather is yet to come. (We may get snow tonight!)

Barbara said...

What an uplifting post! Happy New Year.

Peace!

ArtSparker said...

Appropriate this is the year of the ox, we all need to be patient and use our strength.

larkspur said...

Reya, I live in the dead center of Iowa and the snow is still 1 to 3 ft. in places. Yesterday, early evening, when I walked outside, the air held a fragrance. Very subtle, but my nose told me spring!

crone51 said...

Gorgeous photo, once again.

For me the year begins in September and ends in June- I am the daughter of an educator and the wife of an educator and have college age kids. To me the academic year *is* the year. Summer is this wonderful outside- of- time event that I celebrate with great gusto!

The daffodils are poking their shoots up already here in Joisy...

Loveanewidea said...

Love the photo collage at the beginning of the post!

rothko said...

Hooray for the lengthening days!

deborah said...

and mine is Sunday
as in the year of my birth

have i told you how happy i am that YOU were born and that someone gave/bought you a camera

what a gift to us all

love

Reya Mellicker said...

Crone51 - Very cool to think of summer as existing, in some way, outside of time. It does, doesn't it? Definitely does here in DC. After Congress goes into recess, the days and weeks blur into one timeless, humid, hot non-time.

Patience? Oh yeah - that!

Larkspur - I grew up in Kansas City. I remember only too well the harsh midwestern winters. Ya'll are mighty, getting through it all. I salute you.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,

Just wanted to let you know I have finally posted my first picture, I know that it is small, but I am so happy to have finally figured out how to post one.

You are inspiring me to take pictures again. I am charging the batteries to my camera. I am hoping to learn how to post more pictures and change their size.

And yes spring is a time of renewal and so I am hoping to renew my love for taking pictures.

fush and chips said...

Stunning, stunning top pic Reya.

Janelle said...

happy birthday for tommorrow reya darling. i didn't know you were a doula??? what exactly is a doula? i know its helping with birth etc..but in what context? most interested. lots love and glad winter is waning... xxx j

The girl who grazed imaginary goats said...

In our part of the world(to be more precise India) we have many new years. India being India and Indians beings being Indians belong to so many different religions and communities, each of us have a different new year. But most of us celebrate our new years on April 14th which falls during our summer time. In kerala we celebrate this day as Vishu (New Year). We have a tradition here where the lady of the house wakes up in the early hours of the day and arranges various items (including food grains, vegetables, fruits, new clothes, gold, money etc) in front of a god's idol. Thereafter each member of the family is brought in before that idol with their eyes closed and they are to open their eyes to this wonderful sight which symbolises prosperity for an entire year.

We also have various other new years for other communities.But we never forget to celebrate 31st December/1st January...since it has kind of become the universal new year.....

tam said...

Magical picture. There's an award for you at fleeing muses.