Dropping The Ball On New Year Celebrations

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Dropping The Ball On New Year Celebrations

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Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Times Square in New York City where I was able to see the famous "ball of Times Square." It was there, lit up, and ready for the widely known celebration on New Year's Eve. One million are expected to travel to Times Square to welcome the New Year. Another one billion will watch the dropping of the ball on TV as they welcome in the New Year in their own home and cities (Mark Johanson, “New Years Eve By The Numbers,” The International Business Times at IBTimes.com, December 31, 2012).

Should we be partaking in these celebrations to "bring in the New Year?"

Is New Year's Eve the beginning of the year? On the calendar, we start the year over with a new month, January, and add one to the past year—2014 becomes 2015. That is, according to the commonly used Gregorian calendar. However, this calendar has not always been in use. While the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, the previous Julian calendar was used in much of the world. New Year’s Day was moved to several different days depending on the locale, such as March 1, March 25, Easter, September 1 and December 25. As late as 1751, the New Year in the United States was celebrated on March 25 (“Calendar (New Style) Act 1750,” at Legislation.gov.uk).

With all this changing of dates, do we really know when the new year actually begins?

God's New Year begins in the spring. From ancient times, God's calendar has been in use and the beginning of the year has continuously been at the same time. In Genesis 1:14-18, God said that the lights in the heavens should be used to mark the times and seasons. In Exodus 12:2, God speaks to Moses and tells him when the beginning of the year was to be. The Hebrew calendar uses a lunar/solar calendar with months beginning at the new moon. The first month is typically in March/April. This is used primarily to determine when to observe God’s Holy Days.

Yet, even the Jews do not celebrate the New Year in the spring. They use Rosh Hashanah on 1 Tishri as the start of a new year. On this day, the counting of years is observed. It is a new year for people, animals and legal contracts. It is called the civil New Year.

Okay, so we know that January 1 is not really the beginning of the year, but what is wrong with getting together with a few friends and have a small party? Well, in reality, nothing, as long as you are just gathering to enjoy one another’s company as you would at any other time. But what often happens during New Year’s celebrations?

First of all, the celebration is for a new day or new year beginning at midnight. God tells us way back in Genesis 1:5 that a new day starts with the beginning of darkness, or at sunset. So if you are celebrating the start of a new day that would take place long before midnight.

In addition, noisemaking and fireworks on New Year’s Eve are common. It is believed that this originated in ancient times when noise and fire were used to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. We should instead be looking to God in faith for daily protection and blessings.

Many New Year’s parties include the drinking of alcohol to excess. This is clearly not a godly example, which would be to encourage moderation. Excess drinking leads to lowering of social barriers and can lead to sexual promiscuity, and accidents due to lack of control, such as falling or driving while intoxicated.

Many celebrate by making New Year's resolutions. This practice dates back to ancient Babylon when people made good behavior promises to the gods. Of those that make resolutions, less than half keep them six months later. Wouldn’t it be better to live by good godly principles every day of your life?

It is clear that New Year's Eve is not the time for someone who thinks vertically to be celebrating. It is not when God says a new year begins, and its parties often contain elements that are not godly. Instead of letting the ball drop, what else could you do on that night? Well, you could go to bed early and get some extra rest; play Monopoly or Scrabble (my personal favorite); or you could read a good book or an online magazine. Spend your time wisely and avoid senseless partying.


  • Gayle Hoefker

    Learning to live how God instructs us rather than just going along with what society does, is a life long process.I continue to learn new things each year. I am glad you found this article helpful. I hope that you continue to keep studying God’s Word and learning to follow Him more fully.

  • MBurgos

    I enjoyed the article and learned quite a bit. I am relatively new to UCG and there is a lot more learning to come. Thank you for this article. It has helped a great deal, specially when I have to explain why we, my wife and I, act the way we act when it comes to dates such as Christmas and New Year celebrations.

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