New Year’s Eve: A Brief History + Rosemerry Trommer & David Feela on the Holiday!

New Year’s Eve: A Brief History + Rosemerry Trommer & David Feela on the Holiday!

 Since we saw how 2021 went, do we really want to do this, again? I know. Any excuse to wear sequins. Or sequined face masks this year. Comedian John Oliver was once quoted as saying: “New Year’s Eve is like the death of a pet. You know it’s going to happen, but somehow you’re never really prepared for how truly awful it is.”

Like it or lump it, who’s to praise (or blame) for New Year’s Eve? Get the down low below from

Then please scroll down and read what poets Rosemerry Trommer and David Feela have to say on the subject.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays. At least pre-pandemic.

Early New Year’s Celebrations

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

January 1 Becomes New Year’s Day

The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today.

As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties…

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T.S. Eliot put it this way: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language/And next year’s words await another voice/And to make an end is to make a beginning.” Telluride’s favorite Word Woman and regular contributor to Telluride Inside… and Out, Rosemerry Trommer, puts it another way. But it is same song, different verse for the final hurdle of this very challenged holiday trifecta that began with Thanksgiving: New Year’s Eve and the coming year in general.

Word Woman Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

For Auld Lang Syne

We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet,
says the song, and I would give you
the cup, friend, would fill it
with whiskey or water or whatever
would best meet your thirst.

I fill it with the terrifying beauty
of tonight’s bonfire—giant licks
of red and swirls of blue that consume
what is dead and melt the ice
and give warmth to what is here.

I fill it with moonrise and snow crystal
and the silver river song beneath the ice.
With the boom of fireworks and with laughter
that persists through tears. With
Lilac Wine and Over the Rainbow and Fever.

I toast you with all the poems we’ve yet to write
and all the tears we’ve yet to weep,
I hold the cup to your lips,
this chalice of kindness, we’ll drink it yet,
though the days are cold, the nights so long.

David Feela has these wise words to add. How is this day (or this coming night) any different than any other day or night? His message? Simple. Carpe diem.

David Feela

If Not Now

All of us wait for a particular day,
and that day comes
then goes, to be replaced
by another day

we persistently wait for.
It could be an appointment,
a surgery, a date with a friend
or a lawyer.

It could be a birthday, a picnic,
time for release
from a confinement
where we have been delayed.

It could be a vacation, a flight,
a tour or a performance.
Even a long hallway
with a door that finally shuts.

But it was never
now, never
the inertia required
of a chair,

never the clock irrelevant,
or the water heater’s
blue flame maintaining
its temperature.

Never the yard light
burning all night
over the field
where nothing happens.

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