Separating one year from the next
Arbitrary, yes, but any excuse for a party. I think Festivus, Christmas, the solstice, and New Year’s should all be placed on the solstice, with a week-long party on either side of that date.
I’ve been reading about year-end celebrations on Wikipedia. The idea of a celebration on December 25 came from the Roman Emperor Aurelian for his “birthday of the unconquered sun” festival. This festival was one in a long line of winter solstice celebrations that included gift-giving and Yule logs (from the Roman worship of the god Saturn), decorating with evergreen boughs, greenery, and lights, having feasts, and performing acts of charity.
The January-to-December order of months was established by a Roman emperor around 700 BCE. At some point the English changed New Year’s to March 25. They returned to the older Roman-derived calendar in 1752.
Needless to say, various people celebrate New Year’s on other days and in other months. Every day is a new year, isn’t it?
Utah notes December 31 with an attempt to separate couples
Coming back down to culture wars and politics, we can remember this New Year’s Eve as the day the state of Utah appealed directly to the Supreme Court to put a stop to the gay marriages that are happening in that state. The marriages became legal following a judicial order on Dec. 20. In Utah’s appeal to the Supreme Court, it said that same-sex marriage is an affront to the interests of the state and the ability of its citizens to define marriage “through ordinary democratic channels.”
Remember the case of Janice Langbehn a few years ago? She’s a Washington state woman who took a vacation with Lisa, her partner of 17 years, and their three adopted children. When Lisa collapsed due to an aneurysm, she was hospitalized in Florida. Janice and her children were denied the right to visit Lisa at her bedside and to be with her before she died. They weren’t considered to be family. This is the sort of thing Utah wants to put to a vote. It wants to deny marriage licenses to people like Janice and Lisa.
I think the tide of history and civil rights will overcome Utah, Florida, and other states like this, but I hate seeing the casualties along the way.