Giving the Secular New Year the Yawn


Jewish Guide to Celebrating the Non-Jewish New Year


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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 year” greeting.

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

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