Our New Year is one of many. Culture and agriculture was tied to the great annual Nile flood in Ancient Egypt. The Sirius star would reappear in mid-July after over two months to be the brightest in the night sky and mark a new year, a time of rebirth and rejuvenation.
The Lunar New Year is the lunisolar calendar’s first new moon, depending on when a culture refreshes their calendar. Chinese New Year, for example, is the first new moon after the 21st of January, marking the new year beginning with Spring. The Islamic New Year instead follows the lunar calendar, with no attachment to the solar calendar, as a result falling roughly 11 days earlier in the Gregorian Calendar each year.
On Sunday 11 February, I will be at John Ip’s Imperial China restaurant in Worthing’s Wordsworth Road for the annual celebratory dinner. Do let me know if you are interested in joining the cheerful evening.
The common new year comes as the natural world responds to the short hours of daylight lengthening. Plants, animals and birds sense how to respond.
West Sussex also marks seasons in the Arun Valley. Walking the South Downs Way is a delight throughout the year. From all the vantage hills including Cissbury and Highdown, one notices the ageless succession of the farming cycle. Field preparation, planting, growing and harvesting cycle each year.
There is value in our young people understanding life on the land and at sea, and understanding where their food comes from and how we can live a more sustainable lifestyle. I think I have benefited from months serving the crew on a merchant freighter sailing from Queensland to Liverpool. I gained by weeks each year on a farm, planting potatoes, helping the harvest, and two seasons picking hops in Kent.
There were other jobs in the holidays involving service to people in various ways, though outdoor work sometimes gave the greatest satisfaction, if only when coming inside to dry off in front of a fire.
During the Twixmas days from Christmas to this first New Year’s week, Virginia and I travelled to see family and friends. I honour the nurses and assistants caring for one in a dementia home, safe, warm and with people who understand the residents’ interests and needs. They serve more than five daytime shifts a week. They do not have the option of working from home.
Instead of resolutions, I have been considering the causes for which I will try to be resolute in this year and future years.
The benefits of every home, field and community having a responsible member of parliament are obvious. We can combine on general issues affecting the nation as a whole such as the revision of law on residential freehold or national planning rules. More locally, communities benefit from a representative voice that prioritises and champions their concerns and their desires.
We can recognise the benefits of our first-past-the-post system (FPTP) bringing resolute and clear single-member constituency representation.
In a possible multi-member alternative system, it is doubtful that many undesirable building proposals could have been resisted, knocked back or overturned. There is always possible advantage in continuity as there is in change.
While I can, I aim to persist in cooperation across political differences in the common interest. When necessary, I can campaign to be preferred to the alternatives, though those periods interrupt being productive together.
Thank you to everyone helping in parliamentary work, political activity and community service. It is most rewarding to see results locally and know that lives are improved and difficulties overcome; and when it seems overwhelming, we know that there are friends and trusted community members to call on.