The New Year’s Runners

by Anna

On Sunday I woke up early and since there was a beautifully serene atmosphere outside, I decided to go for an early walk, aiming to forego the masses of Sunday walkers usually about on the seafront at the end of the week. Yet, at 8.45 am I encountered hordes of runners in bright coloured garment, who probably thought the same as me. I might be terribly tactless, possibly even a hypocrite, for I once was one of them, when I refer to at least 60% of them as “New Year’s Runners”. It is really quite obvious compared to the rest of the year.

Bless them, they are clearly trying to get back into shape after all the treats and indulgence that Christmas had on offer, by totally overworking their bodies to achieve something, they just aren’t prepared for physically. You can find the single experienced runner cutting through the crowd like a razor blade. Then there is the single de-oxygenated runner, near the verge of cardiac arrest. There is the pair runners, one starting out, one training the other. Support groups, three leading, five mingling in the middle, chatting and laughing out of breath, one trailing behind, unable to talk. The ladies’ duet, middle-aged women committing to each other’s endurance, one only as strong as the other. And lastly the pretend runner, looking extra efficient when passing by, yet dying to collapse on the floor but not wanting to look like a weak fool in front of the others. Well, that was probably just me.

Why did I begin to run one year in January? Because I wanted to be fit so I could run away really fast in case my ex would live up to his threats and would come after me. And also because I was hoping to apply for the police where I would have to pass a fitness test. How long did it last? With varying commitment way into the year after. I just don’t really like running. I started kickboxing instead. Not at New Year’s though, I hasten to say 🙂

I’m sure that every single New Year’s Runner has their very own dreams and ideas which gives them the incentive to start running. Just why do we tend to do it on New Year’s?

Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year in 46 B.C, partly to honor the month’s namesake “Janus”, the Roman god of beginning, in an attempt to bring the calendar back into sync with the sun after some changes that had occurred over the past centuries.

But the tradition of New Year’s celebrations is actually said to date back as much as 4000 years to the ancient Babylon, which celebrated the first new moon after the spring equinox as the start of the new year. They celebrated the cutting of barley (Akitu), their sky god Marduk and also crowned a new king during that time.

As the different calendars in different cultures changed around the world, the day of the new year was typically linked to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth). Knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. It was Pope Gregory XIII who reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582, the start of the calendar as we know it now.

These calendars are still not exact. Nor is time. Humanity has simply tried to coin a point in time (read my blog on “The Funny Thing About Age“). In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar actually had to add 90 extra days to the year when he introduced his new Julian calendar. The motivation for the Gregorian reform was that the Julian calendar assumes that the time between spring equinoxes is 365.25 days, when in fact it is almost 11 minutes shorter. This results in a drift of about three days every 400 years. At the time of Gregory’s reform there had already been a drift of 10 days since Roman times, resulting in the spring equinox falling on 11 March instead of the ecclesiastically fixed date of 21 March. Because of the connection with Easter in the Roman Catholic Church, this steady movement in the date of the equinox was undesirable. (The Mayan Calendar also didn’t really match ours … I leave this clever person to tell you all about it 🙂

And again I’m asking: Why do we start with new resolutions on January 1st? It might well be that we just follow the crowd and adapt to regional customs. Personally, however, I wonder, how much influence the small amounts of extra daylight has, that has slowly been trickling into our life since the winter solstice. But even more so do I personally want to make you aware of the influence of personal shifts and developments.

Besides personal life changing experiences, there are different theories about how our character is affected by certain life cycles of development. For example there is a seven year cycle, which doesn’t only include the complete change of the cells in our body, but also comprises of the understanding that we change mentally, evolve, mature and possibly even change in personality. Then there is also numerology, which I never used to pay much attention to, but was hooked the first time I did. A numerological year begins and ends with your birthday. You can determine which year you are in by adding together your day and month of birth with the current year. For me, these numerological years have much more significance, and influence, than New Year’s Day. I can only recommend the book “Zillionz” by Titiania Hardie. Overall meanings shouldn’t change much with different books, just the way information is given.

Every day is a new day for change!

Happy New Year! 😉