Someone holding up a calendar with December 31st circled in red marker


How Many New Years’ Can You Have in a Year?

Dec 27, 2018

“Another New Year’s?!” My daughter is not one to pass up a celebration, but she is confused.

I’m left wondering when I tell my kid the year begins and ends....

I’ll admit the years do seem to be going faster lately. I, too, am certain that we celebrated New Year’s Eve only a handful of months ago. We made salted brown-butter Rice Krispie squares, they were weird. But this isn’t what my kid is asking about. In her world, it seems like New Year’s happens three times a year, because it kind of does.

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Here’s the situation: on December 31st, we, like many people in this part of the world, mark the start of a new calendar year. In the fall, we do Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, on account of being Jewish. In the winter, we try to do something for Lunar New Year, because my daughter has some Chinese ancestry and because we participate with close friends who celebrate. And if we’re being honest, the first day of school and entering a new grade feels more like the start of a new year than any of these dates, at least with a school-aged kid. Throw in attending a Nowruz dinner put on by friends or neighbours — something we’ve done some years — and New Year’s is a bimonthly event.

When you’re eight, setting goals for the coming 12 months might be a bit much anyway. Having these seasonal excuses for check-ins isn’t that bad at all.

I’m left wondering when I tell my kid the year begins and ends, and what significance those dates hold. When do we set goals or reflect? How do we make each possible start to the new year a distinct experience?

Some of this work does itself — each event is made memorable by who we spend it with or what the cultural traditions are. Our New Year’s Eves tend to be fairly mild, but neither of us shy away from an excuse to wear sequins or a celebratory foil headband (we found cute old ones at a thrift store in Barrie one year that have become a tradition).

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Rosh Hashanah often falls so close to my daughter’s birthday and the start of the school year that it’s hard to give much time to, but we eat apples and honey and try to participate in the events the congregation we’re part of puts on. I’m fairly hands-off about Lunar New Year — it not being my place or own tradition — but it’s something I want my daughter to know and be able to choose later in her life if she so desires. So I do my best with red Hello Kitty envelopes, clementines and baked goods. In recent years, we’ve been invited to celebrate with friends who host or organize and are learning more about the traditions.

When you’re eight, setting goals for the coming 12 months might be a bit much anyway. Having these seasonal excuses for check-ins isn’t that bad at all. Rather, it’s a chance to ask questions there might not always be time for, figure out what your kid has been thinking about and so on.

While it’s odd to explain the year starting and restarting in the various ways it does, I’m at a point where I’m glad to embrace opportunities to celebrate, reflect and eat the appropriate accompanying treats — whether those are dumplings, honey cake or champagne cupcakes.

Article Author Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She’s a queer single mom to a 7.5-year-old. She’s overshared about her daughter for Today’s Parent, Bunch Family, Baby Post and various other print and digital publications. She’s also a poet (her kid says “of sad books”) and book reviewer (for Publisher’s Weekly, The Canadian Children’s Book News and more). You can find her on Twitter @therealrealtmz.

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