In our world, right about now, many people are making “New Year’s resolutions.” (And some have already broken theirs.) So I thought I’d tell you about New Years and resolutions in the world of the Shine Cycle.
New Years are not celebrated in the Empire with anywhere near as much fanfare as they are here. There are several reasons for this: celebrations in general are often more subdued, lifespans are so long that celebrating each new year is less important, and while calendars were unified when the Empire was formed, the cultural memory of new-year celebration at a different time is strong enough in most places to weaken the fervor of the post-reform celebrations.
Because seasons vary from place to place, it’s not possible to say that “the New Year is in the middle of” such-and-such season, but in most places it happens to be a little after the beginning of harvest. This also complicates any impulse toward wild celebration. And as it’s the beginning of a month, which entails a small celebration anyway in many places, many people don’t see much cause for going beyond that.
In any case, while some among the Chosen mark new years by making resolutions for the new year, this tradition never caught on in the general population—largely because of an aversion to making promises one is not certain of one’s ability to keep. (For mages especially, but even for more ordinary people, breaking one’s word tends to incur unpleasant consequences eventually.)
On the other hand, resolutions like the ones some people here traditionally make at the New Year (though phrased as a prayer of the form “Lord, I desire to henceforward do [or be] such-and-such; knowing that of myself I can do nothing, I pray that you will help me …”) are often made at the transition from Epiphany to Lent, or at the Easter Vigil, or at the liturgical New Year (the beginning of Advent). And it’s not rare (while not all that common either) for people to follow Jonathan Edwards’ practice of making a list of resolutions they desire and endeavor to keep “henceforward.”