A New Way
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
We found that food, fireworks, social media, and revelry are not the only ways to start the new year.
In recent years, I have come to a better understanding of Biblical months and seasons and found out that the Biblical New Year is called Rosh Chodashim or head of the months. The first month of the Hebrew year is Nisan 1 and falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. It is the month of spring and most importantly marks the day of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Israelites literally walked away from slavery and into freedom. It was the beginning of a new life which coincided with the start of spring where everything comes to life after being dormant during the cold winter months. The exodus also marked the time when God started to reveal to them who He was and gave specific commandments for them. God wanted the Israelites to understand that He chose them out of all the peoples on the earth and have set them apart. They were to live differently and follow a new form of worship that would lead to blessings and long life.
Celebrating the New Year has turned into something significant for our family in the last few years.
We had become weary of inhaling our neighbors’ firecrackers and enduring the blasts of fireworks and karaoke singing until the morning of the 1st that we decided to join my sister’s family out of town to pass the New Year festivities.
We rented rooms at a small hotel in Tagaytay City. The viewing deck of the hotel looked out into Taal Lake where the small but majestic Taal Volcano sits surrounded by nearby mountains. It was a welcome respite from the pollution and boisterous celebrations we normally experienced at New Year’s. As we waited for the midnight hour, we played games with our nieces and snacked on chips and other goodies. My older sister and I prepared the “media noche” (New Year’s feast) while the others took naps, watched TV, made New Year calls and texts to friends and family, or checked their social media accounts. Amidst the busyness however there was something missing. We were thankful for the past year and welcoming the New Year but have not included God in all of that. After watching the fireworks display in the town below and in the other hotels, we decided to gather and individually give thanks to what the Lord had done to us in the last year. It was moving to hear how God pulled through in the toughest situations and how He blessed us above and beyond what we expected. Many if not all of the prayers made during the last year were answered. We shared our personal prayer requests for the new year and then had a final closing thanksgiving prayer.
A new tradition
The next year, we went out of town again and was more prepared our New Year’s Eve program. In addition to what we did the year before, we decided to exchange gifts at this time instead of at Christmas. My father gave a short exhortation on a few verses. We wrote down all our prayer requests and sealed them to be opened in the next year. We also prayed a blessing over each other. We each randomly picked Bible scripture cards from a pile and claimed them as our guiding verse for the new year. It was surprising that all of the cards we picked were very specific to what we were praying for or looking forward to do.
New Year has become so important to us that we already talk of hotel reservations as early as September and plan what we’ll do at the stroke of midnight. God has used the New Year to recalibrate our perception of Him and reveal who He is in our lives. We’ve also felt His love tangibly during the times when we shared how faithful He has been in the past year. When we pray for our requests and plans for the coming year it’s as if He’s right there in the room not only listening intently to what we are saying but what our hearts are truly praying. We broke away from a mundane tradition and adopted a new way that brought focus to the One who gives the cause for celebrating a new year. Our family’s New Year’s celebration has become a special way to give thanks, see how God has our best interests at hand as He shows us who He is, what He has done, and what He has in store for us. For that, we are grateful.