Why I am Not Full of the New Year Spirit

Do not believe the hype: the New Year is not yet here. True, this is certainly the first month of the Year of Our Lord 2008, but that really only looks good on paper.

Like democracy and Catholicism, our Western overlords imported the Gregorian calendar into our tropical shores without so much as a by-your-leave. And much like them, some things may have been lost in translation.

At the heart of it, calendars were developed so that farmers could predict seasonal events.

The Time for Planting Rice, say, or The Time to Harvest Mangos, The Time of the Northwest Monsoon, Time to Flee from Marauding Pirates, etcetera. By comparison, January doesn’t really mean anything (except, one must allow, in Latin.)

The Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans celebrate the start of their year at the coming of Spring,

and this certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? The Earth being reborn after slumbering through the cold months. It appeals to cultures who dig the cycle of life and death meme, and also to farmers who dig the, well, earth when it’s time to start planting again.

Right now, though, our islands are still in torpor as nights are getting steadily colder. “Autumn”, such as it is in the Philippines, isn’t due for at least a few more weeks, and Summer is too far away. There isn’t much to feel energetic or hopeful about except the slim chance of getting to sleep in for a few more hours until the world becomes more agreeably tropical.

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