The new year has always seemed a lot like a beginning of winter, or mid-winter celebration. It does not occur at a time reckoned by natural seasons or lunar cycles. It roughly, inexactly, pays tribute to the solar year. It happens at the beginning of a month because, like most things, a man said that is how it is. In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar declared Jan. 1 to be the first day of the new year, the Julian Year, after adding 45 days to the Gregorian Calendar. Before that time the new year was in March – closer to and more in synch with Spring.
But other than Father Time there is not that much about contemporary New Year revelry that seems male. Beginnings tend to be female conceptually as new life is the territory of females.
But what about resolutions? We do not know when or where, exactly, new year resolutions began. In mid-20th Century, Isidor Thorner, a sociologist, put forward the thesis that ascetic Protestantism, or Puritanism, adopted the practice of renewing ones dedication to godliness and self-control for the new year.
That would explain the focus on health improvement in current resolutions. This might carry over from the denial of sinful or indulgent behaviors by 17th Century ascetics.
Carrying on this tradition is perfectly reasonable thing to do. But making the resolution practice one’s own can also be perfectly reasonable.
Perhaps women should start creating collective resolutions. Like all collective action, it would be easier to have a group effort in which individuals can increase or ease off commitments as dictated by other commitments. The Women’s March certainly showed the might of women standing together. The #metoo phenomena showed the power of our collective voices.
So what should we focus on?
- Getting women into positions of governance certainly comes to mind. This is a biggy.
- Changing the language of governance, taking out the words of power, dominance, and war can change the discussion just by choosing costructive words to express our needs.
- Expanding our networks beyond easy, comfortable practice is also worth considering. It can be as easy as changing a meeting place so as to encourage broader geographic participation, or joining in activities with participants outside our own age group.
As the editor and publisher of this site, I will make changes related to the guiding spirit of this emergent phase of the women’s movement wherever possible.
Political legacy will be more prominent this year at WLP. I will try to be as non-partisan as I can.
No matter what you are doing to make the new year a focused and meaningful one, have it be a Happy New Year.
Then let me know what you would like to see in these pages.