A Native Perspective on New Year’s

It’s New Year’s once again – the more recognized one, that is. Throughout 2017, various cultures, tribes, and countries marked New Year’s in their own ways. For me, I was taught that our tribe’s Sundance marks the new year. Praying for those around you, giving thanks for the past year, and grounding myself to my values, these traditions make sense to me for the holiday.

But, New Year’s can mean a lot of things. I find that its meaning changes over time, depending on what happens, who I’m with, or how I’m feeling. It marks a change in many things, most notably the calendar, but to me, New Year’s is always exactly what it needs to be: a change in goals or plans, a time to learn or refocus, and a time of new beginnings.

Personally, I recognize many opportunities to celebrate the start of a new year or resolution. Birthdays mark the beginning of a new year, as can a marriage anniversary and other milestone events. All of these focus on different parts of our lives, have their own merit and contribution, and deserve to be recognized.

Sometimes, the mainstream New Year’s celebrations do not make sense to me. (Why is kissing on New Year’s a thing?) I think New Year’s is kind of funny, as are all celebrations when you look at them too closely. Take the Sioux. We pass down our stories, traditions, and beliefs, and mark our New Year’s by self-reflection, prayer, thanksgiving, and good times. Perhaps more than most, we enjoy the company of our family and friends over a lot of things. Even playing games or watching a movie, one can become too stressed to enjoy oneself, and sometimes being able to do nothing is equally good.

No matter what New Year’s means to you, have a happy end of the year and celebrate safely. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and remember it’s a good time for looking back and looking forward. At the end, that’s all anyone tries for: reflection on the last year, and prayer for another good one. What will you do better this year?

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