Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Just Another Day

Here in Israel, the New Year for the Gregorian calendar is not the big deal that it is in the USA or Europe.  It is not a national holiday; people go to work as usual (though this year it falls on a Friday, which is the beginning of the weekend).

December 31 is the feast day of St. Sylvester, who, as Pope, was instrumental in expelling Jews from Jerusalem and who otherwise was unfriendly to the Jews.  Accordingly, in Europe the practice has developed to call New Year's Eve "Sylvester."  That practice is followed to a large extent in Israel, which, in my opinion, is one reason why New Year's Day is not accorded such an exalted status here.  Another reason is that on New Year's Day, a Jewish boy born the previous December 25th is in his eighth day and accordingly, receives his circumcision.  On the Catholic Church calendar, then, New Year's Day is the Feast of the Circumcision. Given the long history of the often animosity-driven relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jews, many Jewish people, if they do not eschew the usual American and European-type practices regarding New Year's Day, do not avidly partake in them.

In Israel, the New Year is Rosh HaShanah.  Way back when I was employed by the US Department of Defense, we frequently did an informal munchies spread to mark the new US Government Fiscal Year on October 1st.  Though many hotels and bars and restaurants in Israel (especially in cities such as Tel Aviv and Haifa) do mark the New Year at midnight on December 31st, it generally is like a new fiscal year here, with no ball drops or similar events.

Last night, my wife and I had a quiet evening at home.

To all my friends:  Whichever way you may commemorate the passing from December 31st to January 1st, I wish you a Happy New Year, and,  in my unbounded optimism, hope and pray that it will be better than the year that has just passed.

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