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Secular New Year Celebrations at Handmaker

by Nanci Levy | Jan 05, 2018

New Year 2018 - 7While the Jewish New Year of 5778 began several months ago, and Jews around the world participated in a period of self-reflection at that time, with the beginning of the secular New Year of 2018, many Jewish Americans will still join in the annual secular tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. The Marist Poll estimates that about 44% of Americans will be doing so this week, with most Americans focusing on self-improvement. Historians believe that his tradition actually goes all the way back to ancient times, over 4000 years ago, when the Babylonians would annually affirm their covenant with their gods during the spring harvest, and of course the Jewish people have been making their version of New Year’s resolutions around the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah for over 5000 years. I wondered how many of our Handmaker residents participated in this annual secular tradition.

Clearly many of our residents enjoy the tradition of the celebration of the secular New Year, as evidenced by the great turnout at Handmaker’s annual New Year’s Eve party this year. About 70 residents made their way to the festively decorated Great Room to ring in the New Year with the music of Klezmerkaba, a local Klezmer ensemble. There was plenty of bubbly available -- ginger ale and punch that is -- as well as delicious appetizers and desserts.

But, with regard to participating in the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, it seems that the majority of our residents who were asked said that they do not. I was surprised. Here are some of their responses:

“I don’t. I don’t think that I would keep them. I have tried. It always sounds nice, but it never happens.”

“Why bother? I just break them.”

“I used to, but not anymore.”

“Why make them? I break them.”

“I don’t. I just make a list each day and I try to accomplish as much as I can from that list.”

“I don’t make any resolutions, I just hope that my family has a happy and healthy year.”

“I do, but they are personal.”

“I do. I consider my stage in life, my age, and resolve to do some things differently in the coming year. It is about self-reflection.”

“Yes I do. I am going to just try to do my best. I am older and can’t do everything that I want to do, but I am going to do my best.”

“I make the same resolution every day. ‘Let every day be better than yesterday.’ And it usually is.”

“To lose weight. I make it every year. And I keep it, except for the holidays. I also plan to walk every day.”

“Not anymore. Not for years.”

Those residents who admitted that they do make New Year’s resolutions seem to follow the general trend of most Americans, they make them about self-improvement. A few even said that they prefer to make daily resolutions or intentions.

Most of the residents who I spoke with who said that they do not make resolutions said that they do not do so because they believe that when they have made them in the past, they simply have not kept them. So, as some said, why bother? Since most of our residents have lived eight, nine and even ten decades, perhaps there is some wisdom in this that we can learn from. Maybe we should listen to our elders and just take each day as it comes. After all, they have certainly lived and learned.

Whatever traditions you follow, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2018.