Resolve to show resolve

Jorge Velez, Joe Muniz and Tomas Hernandez (from left) cut dashing figures as the three wise men — with Muniz’s sunglasses adding an anachronistic touch!
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Once again millions of people are attempting to restart or improve on life-enhancing goals by making resolutions. Annually, the New Year’s Eve tradition somehow lends permission to erase past foibles and attempt new challenges. For many, the practice of making resolutions is often loaded with a high possibility of failure due to the perennial practice of making of unrealistic goals.

Fact is and statistic show that of the high percentage of resolutions made, less than eight percent are successful.

With such a high percentage rate of failure, why then do millions of people throughout the world place such hopes in challenging and improving feats during the next 364 days.

History blames the practice on the Romans. Most of the burden is placed on Julius Caesar who allegedly declared Jan. 1 the first day of the year to honor the god of new beginnings, Janus. It is written that the Romans celebrated the New Year by offering sacrifices to Janus.

Four thousand years later, the traditions of the ancient Babylonians and Romans continue with individuals proclaiming to :turn down fear, being optimistic, enjoying more vacation, working harder, earning and saving more, exercising more often, taking better care of teeth and body, smelling all the roses, volunteering, completing projects initiated, de-cluttering excesses, eating organic, finding love, marrying, practicing restraint, pursuing, dreams, tamping down on social media, losing weight, stop smoking and perhaps the best yet letting go of making resolutions.

The idea of starting over, seeking a better direction, improving one’s self and renewing hopes and dreams is a wonderful motivator. But the let down when high hopes plummet seems a worse parallel.

Thirty-five percent and the most common reason for participants polled said they failed their New Years’ Resolutions because they made unrealistic goals. Thirty-three percent didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23 percent forgot about it.

About one in 10 respondents to a questionnaire about resolutions claimed they made too many.

This year in particular, after a contentious election process last year, Americans are banking on hopes and fears. While an electoral majority may be counting on the propaganda from a campaign promising a return to greatness, the sector that lost despite popularity may be fraught with fears of doom, unpredictability and inconsistencies.

To the fearful, I offer the words of Robert Fanney “Luthiel: I cannot change what will happen. I can only change how I act in the face of it.”

Throughout all the uncertainties, instead of fear apply the thoughts of poet and author Maya Angelou who said “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

And on one particular issue, Richelle E. Goodrich who penned Making Wishes said — “If you plan to build walls around me, know this—I will walk through them.”

EPIPHANY IN USVI & ETHIOPIANS READY TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

While a huge chunk of the Christian world regard Dec. 25 as the birth date of Jesus Christ, in Ethiopia the population believes the actual day Christ was born is Jan. 7.

Ethiopian Christmas will be celebrated next Saturday. It is a holiday there and therefore Rastafarians who adhere to the practices of the African nation will likely attend church services on Friday into Saturday.

According to Wikipedia:“The difference in the timing of the Christmas celebrations stretches back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII, ruled that the Catholic Church should follow a new calendar — called the Gregorian calendar, as it was closer to the solar calendar than the Julian calendar.”

The Julian calendar had been established by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

“Because it was the catholic pope who ruled on the adoption of the new calendar, many churches not aligned to the papacy ignored it, such as Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Protestants accepted the new calendar in the early 1700s.”

Other Orthodox churches that observe the Jan. 7 date include the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian churches, the Serbs and the Mount Athos monks in Greece.

Epiphany, commonly known as Three Kings’ Day in the United States is Jan. 6. It celebrates the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus and also remembers his baptism, according to the Christian Bible’s events. Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established.

It is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, or the Feast of Epiphany.

The United States (US) Virgin Islands observe the day as a public holiday. Many people here annually observe Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, on that date.

The kings are important because their visit illustrates that Jesus was the king of all kings who came for the Jews and the Gentiles.

Tradition relates a tale of three kings who followed a bright new star — Melchior a Sultan king from Arabia took gold, Baltazar, a Nubian king from Ethiopia took precious and aromatic myrrh, and Gaspar, who was said to have traveled the furthest – an emperor from the Orient took priceless frankincense to the birthplace of Bethlehem.

Throughout the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, the Three Kings’ Day is marked by the people with a Christian observance and a public holiday. To emphasize and maintain their heritage and culture, particularly on the island of St Croix celebration of Three Kings’ Day features parades, bands, food, music, and other types of entertainment.

In Mexico, ‘El Dia de Reyes’ (Three Kings Day),is a holiday that represents the height of the Christmas season. The date marks the culmination of the 12 days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men that traveled from far, bearing gifts for the infant baby Jesus. The children of Mexico in particular look forward to the holiday as traditionally, gifts are exchanged on this date, not on Christmas day.

There, in Puerto Rico, Spain and many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus holds a place but is not as regarded as the primary gift-giver that he is here. Rather, it is the three wise men who are the bearers of gifts. They leave presents in or near the shoes of small children.

The holiday is also known by the name of the Epiphany which dates back to the 4th century.

Although it is not a public holiday in other parts of the United States, many Christians take part in Epiphany activities with: Star processionals on the Sunday closest to Jan. 6 for church services; Parties or get-togethers to clean up homes after the festive season and put away Christmas decorations, Treasure hunts to find a figure of the Christ child, Epiphany luncheons, parties and celebrations among churchgoers, Sunday school activities for children that focus on Epiphany, such as creating the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem.

Catch You On The Inside!

Children scramble for candies thrown by men dressed as Three Kings on horses during Epiphany celebrations in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. Christmas in this dominantly Roman Catholic nation officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany.
Associated Press / Aaron Favila

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