One Year of Letters

janus_statue_2502 January 2015

It seems such an arbitrary thing, this idea of the birth of a new year in mid-winter, and indeed the reason why January 1st is our year’s opening day has been lost to the mists of time. Shifting calendars through the centuries caused January 1st to not quite line up with the winter solstice (around December 21st), a day that carried seasonal significance. Most Europeans used the Roman method of dating each new year from March 15th; only in the 1600s did they begin to mark it from January 1st. Thus, New Year’s Day as we know it came about through a complex set of circumstances.

But January 1st isn’t just any day, flowing one from the next—it’s a day of new beginnings, and it holds a certain fascination for us.

We humans are attracted to the idea of rebirth, of getting second chances. The earth, of…

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