New Years Eve - The Deeper Source of New Year Celebration

Take a look at any horoscope and you’ll see that the astrological year always begins with Aries.
Why? logically, shouldn’t the astrological year commence at the same time as the solar year? Why isn’t G’di, Capricorn - the sign in which the first of January falls - the first sign of the year?

From the Jewish perspective, the answer is simple. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the first of Nissan was the day when the world became a physical existence.

Even though the majority opinion concurs with Rabbi Eliezer that Rosh haShana, the first of Tishrei, is the beginning of the Jewish year, the Torah also calls Nissan the “first of the months”: “This month shall be for you the beginning of the months…” (Shemot 12:1).

Rabbi Yehoshua understands that there are two beginnings to the year, one metaphysical and one physical, one a thought and one a concrete reality. Rosh haShana is the metaphysical beginning of the year. This was the day when God thought to create existence. This is why we refer to Rosh haShana as “harat olam,” the day of the world’s conception. God “conceived” the world on Rosh haShana; however, the first of Nissan is the day that the world became a physical existence. Thus Nissan is related to the word nitzan, which means “first bloom” (Shir HaShirim 6:11). Just as the first bloom is the beginning of the completed state of the flower, so Nissan marks the first bloom of existence.

And Nissan is always in the spring when new life “springs” forth, blooming from the earth.

The Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation also took place in Nissan. The first mitzva given to the Jewish people as a nation was the sanctification of the moon (Shemot 12:1-2); it’s logical then that the Jewish year should begin with Nissan.

The fact that the secular horoscope also starts with T’leh, Aries, indicates that the secular astrological year derived from the Jewish cycle of the months.

However, we could ask the question the other way around: if the universal astrological calendar begins in March/April, why doesn’t the solar calendar also start then? What’s so special about the first of January?

As mentioned above, the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer is that the Jewish year starts on the first of Tishrei with the creation of man. The world into which Adam was born was an autumn world of shortening days and lengthening nights. When Adam realized that the days were becoming shorter, he thought that night was gradually conquering day; that the night was eating up the day, consuming it; that eventually nothing would exist save night. Why was this happening?

Adam surmised that through eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, he had brought sin into actuality. Sin is spiritual poison. Adam thought that he had poisoned the environment, and, having brought death into the world, the world itself was slowly, slowly dying.

Thus for eight days he sat in fasting and prayer. Then he saw a day which was longer than the previous one. The light was coming back into the world.

With this first winter solstice, Adam realized that the shortening of the days was no more than a natural occurrence - the way of the world. He made a Yom Tov celebration, which lasted for a further eight days. In subsequent years he observed a festival for both his eight days of fasting and prayer and the eight days of celebration.

This celebration that Adam made is the reason that the secular calendar begins with January; the midwinter celebrations of virtually every culture are no more than vestiges of an ancient festival created by the First Man when he walked from darkness into light at the dawn of Time.

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