By Martin | Wednesday, January 7, 2015 | 1:54 PM
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays, dating back to 2000 B.C. in ancient Babylon. In late March of that year, a woman named Vernal Equinox was doing her Spring cleaning and discovered the first New Moon. Celebrating the new year in March continued until those fun-loving Roman emperors started fiddling with the calendar. Between music lessons for Nero and some of the other emperors blowing government money on chariot races, there was no money to pay Donald Trump to hire an apprentice to straighten out the calendar.
Our current calendar was not established until 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar, in a rare break from his bickering with Brutus and his personal quest to create the perfect salad. The calendar was so far off he had to let 47 B.C. drag on for 445 days in order to get it back into synchronization with the sun. It was due to this calendar anamoly that we first started having an 11-month NBA season, and too many Baptists getting together every year. In Western nations, January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday only since around 1500 A.D., which coincidentally, corresponds to the birth of Dick Clark.
There are several interesting traditions carried on in different parts of the world as we all celebrate the new year. Some in Austria remember Pope Saint Sylvester and the legend of his killing a sea monster in 100 A.D. The legend was somewhat heightened because of the accessibility of the sacramental wine whenver the story was told. This event is sometimes confused with a lesser known event when Saint Sylvester was caught chasing Saint Tweety around the Vatican.
In parts of Venezuela they celebrate by having a big family dinner. Loosely translated this means they eat anyone weighing over 400 pounds. In Vancouver, British Columbia there is the traditional "polar bear swim." People of all ages and various levels of intelligence strip down to their bathing suits and dive into the icy waters of English Bay. Immediately following the traditional polar bear swim is the traditional "I'm dumb as a grapefruit ambulance ride" to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia. Everyone is familiar with the ball drop in Times Square to celebrate the new year. There are some you may not have heard about. A town in New Mexico drops a big chili and in Plymouth, Wisconsin they drop an 80-pound wedge of cheese, barely missing a 20-pound rat. New Mexico is known for chili peppers and Wisconsin is known for cheese. Which makes one wonder why Amarillo, Texas doesn't sponsor an armadillo drop.
A couple of my favorite cartoon characters were Sylvester and Tweety. Sylvester was a cat who spent most of his time figuring out ways he could get at Tweety, a not-so-harmless little bird. Sylvester would try anything and suffer much pain in his quest for Tweety. A funny thing about Sylvester. He spent all those years chasing Tweety, to no avail, when everything he needed was always right there in his bowl with his name on it.
It is a new year, a natural time for new beginnings and adjustments to our calendar. We make resolutions. We dive into the frigid waters of unknown circumstances and an uncertain future. What do you need to change about yourself this year? Is there something you need to do to strengthen your relationship to Christ? Do you need to begin a quiet time? Do you need to be more faithful in your church attendance, more involved in your Sunday School class? Does your attitude need an adjustment? Does your calendar need an adjustment to make room for priorities?
Everything we need is right before us, with our name on it, in Christ. In 2015, may we not get so busy chasing the things on our calendars that we push Christ to the side, and all our relationships suffer. The one thing we don't need in our lives is to be out of synchronization with the Son.