By Sajid Takar
Every year, New Year eve is celebrated with great passion and joy across the globe. People arrange parties and special programs on the occasion. Musical shows, entertaining programs and gatherings occur on the eve of the New Year. With the modern ages and latest technological advancement, the event has got bigger because it is celebrated in new styles with colorful arrangements.
However, the question here arises that where the concept or say the New Year’s tradition came from?
According to some historians, the New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches, gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges and we see this statue set on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction 62 BC during in the time of Julius Caesar. Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.
The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began during this period in Rome, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. But when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. For example, Christians chose to observe the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1 in place of the revelry otherwise indulged in by those who did not share the faith. This replacement had varying degrees of success over the centuries, and Christians hesitated observing some of the New Year practices associated with honoring the pagan god Janus.
Today, in modern age, the tradition has become very much popular among the people. It will not be wrong to say that this tradition is now celebrated across the globe. People wait for the eve and make necessary arrangements for it.
Sydney, in Australia, is the city that welcomes the new sun of the New Year. Sydney New Year’s Eve is an annual multi-tiered event held every New Year’s Eve over Sydney Harbour, centering on the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Its main features are two pyrotechnic displays, i.e. Family Fireworks” and the “Midnight Fireworks”.
Each year the event takes on a new theme and is regularly viewed by more than one million people at the Harbour and one billion worldwide for the televised Midnight Fireworks. It is said that millions of people watch it every year.
Last year, Dubai was the place that remained the attraction for hundreds of thousands of visitors during the New Year’s Eve. The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa was light up with a spectacular fireworks display for the visitors. The world saw a mesmerizing scene when the building was light up.
This was one angle of the New Year that millions of people enjoyed during the last year. However, apart from these celebrations and joyous moments the year has also left some marks on the map of the globe. Ranging from political to strategic and trade to climate changes, it has its own consequences on the people and countries.
The most prominent and talked about thing that remained ‘talk of the town’ is ISIS or Daesh, an Islamic Jihadi group emerged in Iraq during 2012 and spread from the main Iraqi cities to some parts of Syria capturing the oil hub cities. This group spread terror among the people and tired to impose their own ideology of Islam. They also announced their Islamic State, own currency etc. the leader of the group i.e. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi claimed himself to be the ‘Amir-ul-Momineen’ (Khalifa). However, the world stood against this group and an American led fighting started against them pushing them back from their occupied places to some extent. However, the fight still is on where, on daily bases, news of bloody clashes coming to media. It would not be wrong to say that this group has made at stake the peace of the entire region. Some other important international issues of the year 2014 include Ukraine dispute, withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and its extension by another year, the US midterm elections where the Republicans won the elections by a historical margin.
The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is also said to be one of the few biggest achievements of the year 2014. The bank is being set up on the proposal of Chinese President Xi Jinping to support the developing countries for construction of their basic infrastructure. In this connection, twenty-one countries including Pakistan that are willing to join the AIIB have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week in Beijing.
Moreover, regarding the climate changes and environmental pollution, the United States and China have unveiled a deal to reduce their greenhouse gas output.
Worldwide, this year also brought good news which is the decrease in oil prices. The oil prices have come down to that of five years old level pushing down the price-hikes.
Talking about the year 2014 regarding Pakistan, we can say that it faced the country with challenges ranging from political instability to flooding and law and order to months-long sit-ins and rallies. Some parties in opposition staged rallies and sit-ins against the government that not only affected the trade and economic activities of the country but also postponed the most important visit of the Chinese President. During the summer, severe flooding hit the province of Punjab resulting in devastations of crops and properties of billions.
However, the military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ brought some good news for the people of Pakistan by targeting the terrorists in the North Waziristan and breaking their back. Due to this operation, the law and order situation has grown good because the capacity of the terrorists have gone fragile.
Most importantly, the relations of Pakistan and Afghanistan have taken a new start with the arrival of the new government in Afghanistan led by President Ashraf Ghani. State visits of the civil and military leaders of both the countries have taken place during the recent months that have produced in good results. In this regard, the world has also acknowledged the role of Pakistan against the war on terror.
Overall the things were going to be normal in various fields but unfortunately the saddest, saddest and darkest incident of the brutal attack of terrorists on Army Public School occurred in Peshawar on December 16 that left 148 including 131 small and innocent children and students martyred. The incident was so heavy that it shocked not only the Pakistanis but people across the globe. The government of Pakistan announced a three-day mourning while the flag flew half mast. The entire country mourned over the brutal Peshawar attack and the markets, trade centers, educations institutes remained closed and people showed solidarity with the victims and their grieved families. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also called on for All Parties Conference in order to devise strategy to tackle terrorists. And this was for the first time that all political leadership was seen agreed on chasing the terrorists to their hideouts. After this barbaric and inhuman incident, Imran Khan also called off his 126 days long sit-in in Islamabad against the federal government. The analysts, journalists, politicians and common Pakistanis all appreciated Khan’s decision. This was also a strong message form the political parties that whatever their differences but they were united for the sake of Pakistan. Moreover, the United Nations, world leaders including US President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narindra Modi also condemned the incident.
Shortly, if we overview the year 2014, it has been an opportunity producer not only for the world but also for Pakistan. No one can live life where there are no challenges. However, to tackle the challenges, some strategies should be developed so that the problems could be handled in proper ways. The year has passed and has left its marks only. Everyone should look forward and as it is said that ‘the show must go on’, nations should learn from the past and plan for the future.
Let’s hope that the New Year (2015) bring prosperity, peace and happiness to the entire world.