Jewish Guide to Celebrating the Non-Jewish New Year
By Nachum Mohl
Every year as December approaches I begin to feel more
aware of my own Jewishness. From the diabolical urgings pushed upon me from
every conceivable source, radio, newspaper, billboards and even neighbors
comments all cleverly designed to encourage me to buy presents for everyone; I
am totally repulsed from such actions in the devious name of good cheer.
However the holiday that I wish to speak about is ‘New
Years’, the civil new year - as opposed to the Jewish New Year. It is perhaps
important to review here as a guide how a Jew is supposed to celebrate the New
Year, 2009, as it comes in. Therefore I am presenting to you, my dear public, as
a definitive guide to properly observing this holiday in relation to its
importance to our lives.
Jewish Guide to Celebrating the
Goyish New Year
First and most important is to know that many stores will
be closed on this chosen of all days, so pick up the few items that you will
need to make a simple meal to properly celebrate the New Year with the proper
dignity that must be accorded it. Cooking is permitted on the secular New Year
unless it falls on the Shabbat, which this year it does not.
It is important to eat a meal that will reflect the
importance of this date; I recommend that the leftovers in the far recesses of
the refrigerator be utilized for this momentous occasion. Drinking on this day
seems to be the most important aspect of this day, therefore I recommend using
water from the cold water tap without ice. Although it is the custom of the
general population to drink alcoholic beverages in excess, still to properly
honor this night, cold water is the most fitting. Sleeping early on this night
is highly recommended after you wish every one the accepted, “see ya next
Since the next day is generally work-free, and since this
marks the end of the fiscal year, it may be wise to reflect on the gains or
losses that have marked up on this year. Taxes are not required to be paid on
January first, so one may contemplate the good fortune that he/she has in not
having to deal with tax forms yet. Even more so, one may use this moment as he
sits down to eat his leftovers to thank G-d for the good fortune that he is not
looking about to have a ‘good time’ at some asinine party where the purpose is
to either get drunk, get heavy with some one of the other sex or both. Instead
contemplate on the total difference between the Jewish New Year’s celebration
and those barbaric elements of society who feel that they must party to
welcome in a civil year – a date that really has no meaning in history except
that somewhere someone said that this will be January 1st and
everyone wagged their heads and said yah.
When we celebrated the New Year we requested from the good
L-rd that he bless us with a healthy and happy year. We prepared a festive meal
for ourselves and our friends. We spent the day in prayer.
However the aborigine inhabitants of most countries use
the night as a time of wild partying, drinking and foolishness. The day is
dedicated to watching football games and recovery from over drinking. We must,
on such an important time, thank G-d that our lot is not based on such trivial
and idiotic actions. Let us spend the evening by taking out a holy book and
studying something that we did not have time for before.
Observance by Day
A nice food menu by day should consist of a glass of
orange juice and a bowl of whole wheat cereal for breakfast. The main meal could
be a home made pizza or a cheese sandwich. If one is in the mood for a toast, a
toasted cheese sandwich would be acceptable to all. Drinks at this meal might
include some carbonate beverages, but too many as they may interfere with the
traditional day-off nap.
On this long day when the stores are closed and there is
nothing to do, it is recommended to get up early, together with the sun. Get
outside early when the sun is just coming up. It is a splendid time to offer
prayers to G-d for His goodness on this quiet day when all the party revelers
are sleeping off their drunk. Also perfectly acceptable is to visit the local
synagogue (remember that they have Sunday hours) for a Torah lesson.
All in all, as this day, the first day of the new secular
year draws to a close it is good to relax with your family with a lively
discussion on why it is good to be a Jew and why our New Year’s day is much
better than the local secular version.
from the December 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine