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December 28, 2010 > For every end there is a beginning

For every end there is a beginning

By Meenu Gupta and William Marshak

For every end, there's a beginning... dawn follows dusk. Mankind's experience shows this to be eternal and true. That which becomes old yields to new, just as one season leads to the next and the close of a calendar year ushers in another.

As 2010 makes way for 2011, the "new" year has a deeper connotation than just a change of calendar pages. This is a time to think of renewal, rejuvenation and rejoicing in the spirit of a beginning, looking forward to joy and bracing for challenges.

Although in these times, January 1st is recognized as the beginning of a New Year, this wasn't always the case. Common sense would suggest that in an agrarian economy, the spring when crops are planted to begin a new season of growth, would be more appropriate. In fact, this was so until the Romans attempted to create a unified calendar. Roman terminology for months of the year does not correspond to their placement in the ubiquitous solar calendar (i.e. seven (September), eight (October), nine (November) and ten (December). January and February were added later, about 700 B.C., to designate the beginning of Roman Consul terms of office.

The "Julian Calendar" (46 B.C.) officially recognized January 1st as the first day of a New Year but it wasn't until much later that others, including the Catholic Church under the Gregorian calendar in 1582, recognized New Year's Day in January. There is a New Years Day discrepancy between these calendars which accounts for New Year celebrations of Eastern Orthodox celebrations on January 14. Protestant nations including the British Empire (and the American colonies) continued to use March to mark the New Year until almost 200 years later. Those cultures following a Lunar calendar mark the New Year at a different time since cycles of the moon - from full to "new" - differ from that of the annual cycle of the sun.

Celebration of the New Year is intertwined with a variety of traditions including use of symbols such as rings, babies, parades and particular foods. Resolutions are common to fulfill the promise of better lives and good fortune, while embracing introspection of previous actions. Many break into song at the stroke of midnight with the melody and words of Auld Lang Syne, written as a variation of a Scottish song in the 1700s by Robert Burns.

There is no need to travel outside the greater Tri-City area for festive celebrations. Events featuring live music, champagne toasts and New Year's balloon drops are hosted by many local restaurants, hotels, banquet halls and specialty venues. While some New Year's Eve activities are focused solely on welcoming a new year, others such as the special afternoon celebration for children at Chabot Space and Science Center emphasize a theme. This New Year, it is "green" with the slogan, "re-duce, re-use and re-joice."

New Year's Day offers much more than watching parades and football on television. Outdoor activities abound at local regional parks during the New Year weekend including butterfly walks at Ardenwood, a New Year's Day hike, morning photography, an archeological experience at Coyote Hills or horseback riding at Sunol. Hiking trails will be open around the area including East Bay Regional Parks, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge and Ed Levin County Park.

Some websites to visit about New Year outdoor weekend activities include: (Don Edwards) (Ardenwood, Coyote Hills, Sunol)

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