Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Soon Father Time, with his long beard and his staff, will depart and all willwelcome the newborn 1989. January, of course, will lead off the parade of 12 newmonths.
January has not always been the New Year's lead month. About 700 B.C. January and February were the last two months of the Roman year, with 31 days to each month. With the appearance of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 A.D., January, with 31 days, became the first month in the new year.
January was named for Janus, a Roman god. Janus was the god of doors and windows. Because a person symbolically passes through a door or gate when he enters something new, such as birth or death, Janus became the god of new beginnings. While Jan. 1 was sacred to him, he is supposed to preside over the whole year. Heis often represented by two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward.
Janus is usually portrayed as carrying keys and a staff. We are told that in Roman times the doors to his temple were open during war times and closed in peace time.
Some other January-related tidbits:
- In January, the northern half of the world experiences its coldest weather while the southern half has its warmest weather.
- The snowdrop is considered January's special flower, and the garnet is its birthstone.
- Christians celebrate Jan. 1 as New Year's Day. Jan. 6 is the 12th day after Christmas, and Catholic, Episcopal and Eastern Orthodox churches observe theEpiphany, or the coming of the wise men. It is sometimes called Twelfth Night orLittle Christmas, and gifts are often given at that time.
- About the middle of January, the Hindu people celebrate Makara Sankranti as a bathing festival. They try to bathe in the Ganges River, especially at the point where the Ganges and Jummas rivers meet. They believe the Ganges to be sacred.
- Januarys past boast the birthdates of poets Carl Sandburg and Edgar Allan Poe and writers Jack London and Horatio Alger. U.S. Presidents Millard Fillmore, William McKinley and Franklin D. Roosevelt share January as a birth month. Explorer John C. Fremont; John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin, signers of the Declaration of Independence; educator William Lyon Phelps; and women leaders Carrie Chapman Catts and Lucretia Mott are other famous people born during the month. The list goes on and on.
- January also has had its share of important events. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January, Thomas Edison received his first patent for an incandescent light in January 1880 - and Utah became a state on Jan. 4, 1896.
As December draws to a close, people are asking the age-old question, "What will the new year be like?" A friend's answer:
"I'll tell you what it will be like - all kinds of weather, some bad, but lots of good; strikes, protest marches, influenza, highway accidents, airplane crashes, marriages, births, deaths, divorces, unemployment, inflation, wars, risingprices, teenage problems, hunger, AIDS, drug problems, and LOTS OF HAPPINESS. Year after year, it evens itself. The more things change, the more they stay the same."
It is true and will always be so, each year much can happen that is false or true, but there will always be "lots of happiness" in the midst of the problems and sorrows. Happiness can be found if we but recognize it as such.
"Ring out the old, ring in the new. . . . Ring out the false, ring in the true."
Happy New Year 1989.