… nature hath framed strange fellows in her time.
Hurrah… it’s almost my favourite time of year!
The Romans moved the start of the new year to January in 153BC – a month named after Janus, the god of gates, doorways, beginnings, endings and time, who is generally depicted with two heads: one to look back on the past, the other forward into the future.
They believed Janus would, at midnight on 31st December, simultaneously look at both the old and the new years. It became customary to exchange good luck offerings at this time and in an early example of how quickly commercialism evolves around human habit, simple offerings of branches from sacred trees progressed into gifts of coins bearing Janus’s two heads, presumably in the hope of evoking prosperity for the coming year.
This practice of looking back, like Janus, on what’s gone – learning from it and moving forward with enthusiasm – is a human endeavour I’ve always found very cathartic. Essential, for me, in fact. But this year I’m deviating from it. I’ve spent the whole of 2010 in backward glance, gaining me nothing and costing me plenty, and so I shall forego the annual melancholy twixt-Christmas-and-New-Year navel gaze and skip straight into the optimism of another new beginning… a fresh start… a blank and promising page.
Oh, and here, have an olive branch…