I recently made a post following the Christmas holiday, and just a day or two before “New Years Eve.”
My OP was simply, “Looks like our New Years Eve will be rainy and all the way into the New Years Day. We don't have big plans, just the two of us, maybe movies and some special treats after a nice take-home dinner we are going to grab from the same restaurant we bought gyros from (earlier in the week). Was a bit bothered by rainy days, but then I thought, Actually, that rain can just WASH AWAY 2020!!!! And start the new Gregorian year off clean and shiny, new!!!!”
This simple thought brought a number of questions through messenger about how our ministry feels about celebrating New Years on December 31st to January 1. This blog post is a summary of the thoughts I emailed out to answer basic questions. In this post, we are not going to get into the typical discussion about pagan elements, nor are we going to rant, “NO!!! Don’t celebrate!!! IT’S PAGAN!!” By now I would hope that you recognize the fact that we are not that kind of ministry.
Although there are days on the calendar which we do NOT celebrate because they DO have a strong pagan influence, such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter, the end of December New Years is not one we put in that same category.
First, we need to realize how the people of the world recognize A NUMBER of “New Years” throughout the year – many people don’t realize that. From a Biblical perspective, there is the new year that happens when Yom Teruah occurs in the fall. This is when the Hebrew Calendar changes the numerical designation for the year. It marks time. Then, there is the end of one and beginning of another agricultural year. There is the new year that is celebrated in the spring as well – which is described in Exodus 12. Another example would be how Americans (and much of the business world) respect the “new year” that happens at the end of the fiscal year. Which brings us, of course, to the typical New Years celebration everyone is most accustomed to: the end of one and the start of the next Gregorian calendar year. These are just a few of the examples that can be described.
Each of these “new years” serves a purpose.
As a gardener, I respect the agricultural year as it rolls through. The minute the harvest season is over, the soil needs to start being prepared for the next planting season. It is just something you do when you want to produce the best results.
As believers we honor the Biblical time markers with the spring and fall feasts. Both of which contain a “new year” memorial time.
And then, because we have owned our own businesses in the past as well as currently serving in our ministry, we MUST respect both the Gregorian AND fiscal calendars. In our ministry, this is what we would call teaching balance. Let me explain some critical details which a lot of people try to ignore when they go “all-in” trying to purge their lives of “pagan calendaring.”
#1) People operate on the Gregorian calendar – world-wide. It is a fact we HAVE to accept. We can’t just toss it aside. Businesses, banking, doctor appointments, paydays, work schedules, school schedules, sports, Shabbat meetings, pretty much everything in life uses this as the timekeeper. It is a convenience we are all accustomed to.
I have met people over the years who refuse to use the Gregorian calendar claiming it is pagan, therefore Yahweh would consider it sin to use it. Yet we literally cannot escape it. Imagine trying to call a doctor’s office and scheduling an appointment for the 18th day of the Hebrew month. Or worse, if you are a person who believes that the new year starts ONLY in spring and you try to schedule an appointment on the 18th day of the “fifth month.” Would you be scheduling your appointments on the SAME FIFTH MONTH? Not likely. It would be impossible to accomplish all the scheduling according to your personal calendar preference – you would eventually HAVE to point out what Gregorian date you need that appointment on.
Another reason we HAVE to live by the calendar the world is on – when we write out checks, make payments for bills, and when we sign legal documents, the list is endless. Using the Gregorian calendar makes it very easy to reconcile things, to be honest. This might be one of the correct ways in which we submit to governing authorities, as is described in Romans 13 and the principle of submitting to the governing authorities.
A moment here, too to point out how many don’t realize that the Hebrew calendar has paganism in it as well. Take for example the month of Tammuz. It is Babylonian and the name of a Pagan god. At some point, we have to reach a sensible position of BALANCE.
#2) When it comes to celebrating Biblical Feast Days, we personally follow the Hebrew calendar (Hillel II) for our Feast Days – except, as I have mentioned before, some Feasts are marked for two or three days (as per rabbinic tradition). We do not follow rabbinics when it comes to our beliefs. Many of their teachings are blatantly unbiblical. I discuss this in several different blog posts. We use the Biblical description for the proper dates to celebrate and mark our calendars accordingly. So, on those Feasts where the Hillel 2 may mark 2 days, we celebrate ONE day. We follow the BIBLE description on those days.
#3) When it comes to the Gregorian New Year celebrations, yes, some do have pagan traditions attached to them or are derived from pagan origins. Father Time and Baby New Year are a couple examples, while noise makers, are another. These are sometimes used by some cultures to chase away demons as we enter into a new and prayerfully prosperous year. We don’t do or participate in these celebrations in any way. We simply mark the change of one numeric year to another.
I can share with you what we have done in the past and do now to celebrate the change.
Examples: when we lived closer to family in NJ, we would gather together on NY Eve, have special foods that we each enjoy, usually a pot-luck sort of spread. Some years we had nothing but lots of snacks, others we had a dinner. And then play games together until midnight. Then we would wish everyone a blessed next year, and everyone would go home. Nothing big – those who were accustomed to saying “Happy New Year” would, we generally just wished blessings upon everyone for the upcoming 12 months. Our family is one of many mixed faiths, and this is what was best for us.
Now, living in the Appalachians, it is just the two of us. We use it as an evening to go out early, buy some nice take out that we don’t normally splurge on, something special to drink along with it (we don’t do sodas, so often flavored sparkling waters), and maybe a nice dessert if we are in the mood. We then enjoy dinner and a movie at home (Although sometimes we binge watch a show we want to catch up on). We do that until midnight, and then we tend to end up, for about an hour, fielding phone calls or texts from those same family members I mentioned above.
On a few rare years in the past, we enjoyed an evening just as I described, but with friends who live close. We don’t like to be on the mountain roads on certain nights. Hard enough driving in winter, let alone with drunks on the roads. So, we stay in our development. It doesn’t work out every year that we can spend it with friends, though.
This year, more than many in the past, has been a difficult one for the world, and in some ways for us personally. Yet right near the end of this year, we were blessed greatly with a change we didn’t see coming. Plus, in a short time we will be welcoming our newest grandbaby – sometime in January! We are celebrating MIRACLES and blessings right now!!! Our grandson is a miracle after 10 years of infertility for our daughter and Son-in-law. We have a lot to celebrate, many do, and even those who don’t feel it is the start of a new time period in which we can pray to Yahweh for opening of doors, for provision, protection, and even more.
We are not a ministry built on legalistic obedience which can get overwhelming. Yeshua told His followers that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Our salvation is only through him, it is not gained by meticulously examining every micro detail of our lives by a “pagan” measuring stick. When we do this, we often lose the love and fruit of the Spirit He wants us to exhibit toward each other, and toward others.
Blessings and Shalom
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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