Spring equinox: An alternative New Year?

Not feeling the New Year? You're not alone...

Zahra Hanif
12th February 2024
Image source: Ri_Ya@Pixabay
On the 1st of January, the new year is marked in England with the sound of neighbours’ fireworks, house parties with friends, and a notes app page full of half-hearted resolutions. However, this isn’t the case for many other cultures, who opt to reset the count in March instead. This was, in fact, once also the case in the United Kingdom, or at least until 1752, when we switched to the Gregorian calendar. This calendar altered the New Year to the winter solstice from its later position around the Spring equinox.

However, there may still be logical reasons to start a new year in Spring rather than bang in the middle of Winter. Due to a combination of factors, January is often dubbed the most depressing month of the year - see: “January blues”, “Blue Monday”, etc. The days are still short and cold, which also contributes to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for many individuals. There’s also the whiplash of returning to work or education after a limbo period. Even when I celebrate the new year with my friends, I don’t wake up on the day feeling regenerated or like a massive shift has taken place - January always feels an awful lot like continuity, just counting down the days until we see an 8pm sunset again

Even when I celebrate the new year with my friends, I don’t wake up on the day feeling regenerated or like a massive shift has taken place - January always feels an awful lot like continuity

Enter: Spring equinox. This day is celebrated towards the end of March (roughly around the 20th of March) and marks the first official day of Spring when the day and night are roughly the same length. Many cultures deem this a more appropriate new year due to its connotations of renewal; with the rebirth of nature and lengthening days. So, if you’re not feeling ready to step up into a new era on the 1st of January, there is a valid alternative for you, and you are most certainly not alone in this feeling.
This is not to say that there’s a particular need for continuous self-improvement like New Year’s marketing suggests that there is; that means you need to have a specific calendar date that you plan to elevate your entire existence.

If you’re not feeling ready to step up into a new era on the 1st of January, there is a valid alternative for you

This is just reassurance that, if you’re not feeling brand new and energised when the months reset, this is so normal. We can only blame the placement of the Gregorian New Year being in one of our darkest months. But if anything, at least the load will get a little lighter by the time Spring comes around.

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AUTHOR: Zahra Hanif
English literature student :)

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