This is for all of us who grew up going back to school the day after Labor Day. The First Day of School meant a new school year, a new teacher, new classmates, new books, new room.
Today's kids will mark mid-August as a time of new academic beginnings.
There are other New Year's Days, as well. Later this month, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which has come to be known as the Jewish New Year. Christians begin their religious calendar with the first Sunday in Advent, which is either the last Sunday in November or the first Sunday in December.
Then there's the January 1 New Year we inherited from the Romans. Orthodox Christians, who still follow the older, Gregorian calendar, celebrate Orthodox New Year in mid-January. Later in January (sometimes early February), the Chinese New Year and Tet Nguyen Dan, the Feast of the First Morning, or the Vietnamese New Year, are celebrated in Asia.
There's another Jewish New Year in the spring time. Leviticus 23:5 puts Rosh Hashanah in the seventh month of the year. Leviticus 23:34 says Passover is during the first month of the year. One would assume the new year began the first day of the first month; but, as with our academic calendar versus our civil calendar, that's a good example of assumptions being dangerous things.
And, just to keep things interesting, the Islamic New Year will be on December 18 this year (2009), but was on August 2 in 1989 and was on April 17 in 1999. The year 2008 saw two Islamic New Year's Days -- one on January 10 and one on December 29 -- because the Islamic year is 11-12 days shorter than the Julian calendar.
Because of the number of different religions and ethnic groups, India had 30 different calendars until 1957.
Maybe the point is that every day is a new beginning--the first day of the rest of your life, as someone wisely said.