Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1227, (1-7 January 2015)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1227, (1-7 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Ring happy bells across the land

Are we optimistic about 2015? Indeed we are.

The bells have changed their mournful tone overnight. Their wrangling and jangling of danger and sorrow have died out. Now they sing a happy tune for the birth of a new year. We embrace this new year with optimism and promise, with exuberance and anticipation.

The laughter and merry-making of just a few hours ago extends into the first hours of the new year and beyond, offering a million reasons for rejoicing. Gone is the anger and sadness of years past. Our nation is in the hands of a leader blessed by the sun of his native Egypt, with courage, wisdom, honesty and integrity. Above all with a profound love for his nation and his people, and with a heart full of genuine kindness, especially towards the desperate, who have through the years, forgotten what kindness is. This is the one virtue that must never die. He dares to dream great dreams for his Egypt and with infinite resolve every dream will be fulfilled. That sense of rebirth and renewed hope pervades throughout the universe with every new year. We wipe the slate clean of grief and tears, of violence and bloodshed, as we envision a future filled with peace and goodwill, with laughter and merriment, with happiness and prosperity. The hope in the heart of man is everlasting.

New Year’s was the oldest of man’s holidays. Once celebrated as a religious feast (halidai, meaning holy day).  Its story begins long before any calendar existed.

It was celebrated at springtime, at the vernal equinox, with nature’s rebirth, a logical beginning, marking the start of the agricultural season.

The first record of a New Year’s celebration goes back 4000 years in Babylon, around the last week in March. The boisterous merry-making lasted 11 days of feasting with food, wine, music, dancing and total indulgence in all that was pleasurable. Sounds familiar?

Tumultuous parades followed the high-priest in Babylonia as he washed in the sacred waters of the Euphrates. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the flood of the mighty river Nile, enriching the land with new crops for the New Year. The great Pharaoh set sail on a long grand journey from Karnak to Luxor ushering in the New Year celebrations which lasted 24 days. Egyptologists believe this majestic ritual marked the period in which the earth completed a full cycle around the sun.

The Vikings celebrated “Yule dag” for 12 days, which later became the 12 days of Christmas.

The ancient Greeks in 600 BC, honoured their god Dionysius by parading a baby in a basket, symbolizing the rebirth of the god of fertility, hence the symbol of a newborn for the new year.

The ancient Roman calendar observed 25 March as the first day of the year, so why are we observing it in the dark cold of winter? Arrogant Roman Emperors tampered with the calendar, pushing it to January when it was declared the start of the year in 153 BC. Since then, in the dreary dullness of the cold, we cling to each other for warmth and comfort and a collective sense of hope. We hold hands and burst into song with all our hearts and souls. We share the sobbing, laughter, hysterical squeals and flowing tears. This unique cocktail of joy and sorrow is prepared especially for the birth of a new year.

With every new year we embark on an adventure into the unknown. There may be danger lurking ahead, but there is also happiness, achievement, success, prosperity, music and laughter. Is it not up to us to make it so? How serious is our resolve for 2015 for ourselves, our families our country?

Life is dear, life is short. Let us not squander our precious time that flies so quickly.

Humour is a good thing to contemplate. It can save years of our lives.  Psychologists believe that if we can control our muscles we can also control our thoughts.  Why do we fuss over small stuff — “and it is all small stuff”.

Let bad habits die with the old year. Believe once more in faith, hope and charity.

Kindness is a virtue lost in the mist of greed and the fog of war. Ignore others unkindness: let “the milk of kindness” flow freely from your heart to those less fortunate. If love can perform miracles so can kindness. It can help the bereaved, the downtrodden, the persecuted, the solitary, the broken-hearted, the hopeless.  Give a little kindness, no, give a lot of kindness. It costs nothing and can  accomplish  much.

A smile, a kind word, a shake of the hand, a pat on the back can bring solace and comfort and a world of joy to those deprived of any or all human grace and affection.

Confess your love in this new year if you have not. It is not yours to keep any more but belongs to the person the heart has chosen. Undeclared love is a loss to humanity, so sorely in need of love.

So, jingle, jangle silver bells, ring out the evil from men’s hearts, herald in the new year amidst our effervescent laughter and joy.

With hats and horns and a million balloons let us up, up and away to a new start with laughter, love and kindness and the courage to dream “the impossible dream”.     

 

“We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for the sake of auld lang syne”                           Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

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