New Year means new life?
End of year. In the midst of the Christmas and New Year holidays, there is an expectation of a new beginning and a change. Fortune tellers, astrologers, among others, are consulted by the media and the population to know what the coming year will be like. People wish Happy New Year for each other. Every year end is marked by this expectation that the year that will start will be better. But where does this expectation and predictions come from? What is the real basis of this expectation? What does the passage from one year to another mean? Such questions are rarely posed because people hardly question the air they breathe, and this applies to the “cultural air,” that is, the world of traditions and conceptions that permeate everyday life.
Expectations are a product of the desire for a better life, a happier future. The origin of these expectations lies in two elements: discontent and desire. Discontent with the present life (in its totality or in several of its aspects, which in the case of modern society, refer to professional, affective, financial, political life) brings the desire for change, the hope that better days will come, dreams will be performed.
Discontent and desire create the expectation and belief in change, as well as a collective pseudesthesia (false sense) of renewal. People’s predictions do not, in most cases, have a concrete basis. This makes mystical predictions a strong attraction because they reinforce hope and belief in change.
Most perceive this process as being individual: discontent, object of desire, expectation, belief in changes for the individual. Although individual changes may occur, they are limited if there are no social changes. Hence the eternal discontent and desire for change, for even those who ascend a step in the social ascension enrich and realize desires that, in the end, do not mean personal fulfillment, since they remain trapped in a mercantile, bureaucratic and competitive society, continue feeling the discontent and the need for new change. Change in the collective sense was more common in “primitive” societies, not marked by individualism and competition, although it was not abolished but only marginalized in modern society.
However, the passage to the New Year does not mean any change in itself. The year is a period of time constructed by means of a classificatory process, using as criterion the time that the planet Earth spends to turn around the Sun. In the contemporary world, it is what is called “solar year”, whose origin is Egyptian. What happens is a physical movement of a planet around a star, marking a certain period of time. This period of time also expresses biological changes in living beings, among others, but not showing any leap or radical change.
The expectation of change that occurs in this period of the year is directed to the sphere of social relations, which do not suffer any great influence of this physical movement that serves as a qualifying criterion for the duration of the year. In addition, the demarcation of when is the end of the year and the beginning of the next is arbitrary, a social product. It could be, instead of January 1, in August, provided the calendar had been produced in another form, with another date marking. And so it was, for example, in ancient Egypt, where the year began on July 19. In other cases, the beginning of the year occurs on other dates, such as March, September, December. Not to mention the calendars in which the year is more than 12 months old.
Some superficial changes reinforce this collective pseudesthesia of renewal. As various social relationships are organized from the temporal demarcation of the annual calendar, this reinforces the perception of a change. The school calendar, for example, is organized mainly annually, which means that the individual is in the expectation of meeting new people, living new relationships. Even though it is a semi-annual calendar, the sense of renewal takes place, reinforced by the general mood announced by the New Year and greatly amplified by the media, mysticism and religions. In the New Year there is also the resumption of the football championship and other sports competitions, the promises of new programs on TV and a few changes that, in the end, nothing changes or changes superficially, or localized, affecting only a few individuals or social groups, the which is little more than the individual change mentioned above. Because there is no change in the totality of social relations. In some individual cases, the changes are a little deeper, such as for those who passed the college entrance examination or agreed to a new employment contract.
As far as social relations are concerned, the changes do not fall from the sky, nor does any magical event occur on January 1 that causes any change that is not a continuation process in relation to the previous year (s). World War II, started in 1939, was not born this year because it was the product of a long historical process that generated its reason for being and existence. So if one wants new events the next year, one has to realize that there is a process that brings a set of tendencies and that pure will, faith or mysticism can do nothing in this sense, since it is the previous actions that will promote the possible changes.
Although will and faith are elements that can influence events, preparation and present action are more important to change the future. This has nothing to do with the passage to the New Year. A magical day in which things change without any action in this direction is impossible. The rupture between the present and the future does not occur, for the future is built in the present - carrying the influences of the past - including the rupture. Nothing will happen next year that is no longer prepared, or in embryo form, this year and in previous years. Therefore, to wish Happy New Year is something empty if we have not done anything to make the future better. The best way to wish a happy New Year is to do something in the present so that it will come to fruition in the future.