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Is this a Good Time to Celebrate the New Year?

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

By Jonathan Hoffman, PhD. ABPP

As of the time of this writing, New Year 2023 is almost here, at least according to the Gregorian calendar used by most of the world. But it will also be the year 4720 in the Chinese calendar, 5783 in the Hebrew calendar, and it is already 1444 in the Islamic calendar, and so on.

The Gregorian calendar was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 because previous solar calendars that measured a year by the approximately 365, 24-hour days it takes the Earth to complete one orbit around the sun were somewhat off and had trouble dealing with leap year. Solar calendars were themselves preceded by lunar ones. The 24-hour day was introduced by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus in the second century B.C., who simply added up the 12 hours of the day and 12 hours of the night he had observed during the equinox.

Since a year, day, hour, second, and shorter time periods down to the attosecond that measures time in quintillionths of a second are all human concoctions; theoretically, New Year might be observed by referencing any one of them. Or, for that matter, the Cosmic calendar. On the Cosmic calendar, New Year comes every 230 million Gregorian calendar years, which is how long it takes the Sun to orbit the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The advantage of penciling in New Year on the Cosmic calendar is that it would inherently cultivate the value of patience, as well as be cost-efficient regarding expenses for champagne, fireworks, and noisemakers. However, it would also be sad because everyone living now or born during many millennia into the future would be long gone before they had a chance to ring in a first New Year.

At the opposite end of the time scale, on an Attosecond-based calendar, if one year equals one attosecond, almost everybody would be blessed with an incalculable number of New Years', besides qualifying for social security in roughly 65 quintillionths of a second. They would also evolve prodigious mindfulness skills since time sure flies in ‘attos.’ But, on the other hand, it would also create a lot of stress regarding planning New Year’s Eve parties in a timeframe that makes the blink of an eye seem like an eternity.

So, considering the alternatives, a New Year every 365 days seems about right, even if it is completely arbitrary. Not too short a time to meaningfully reflect on the past year, and not too long a wait for a special occasion to set forth with renewed hopes and dreams once again for the next lap around the sun.

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