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Tevet 14, 5770, 12/31/2009
Don't drink to that! Any Jew who raises his cup for the 'Sylvester' New Year, is toasting to a day synonymous with the flow of Jewish blood. I hate to be a party-pooper, but really, let's take a look at the history of this day....
From Simple To Remember: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/newyearshistory/
"In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Years day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god (January) would be the appropriate door to the year. Caesar celebrated the first January 1 New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee. Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets. In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgiesa ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods."
Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgiesa
"The Israeli term for New Years night celebrations, Sylvester, was the name of the Saint and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.). The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation. All Catholic Saints are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saints memory. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day - hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester's memory."
And what has this celebration begot today to our youth and Western culture? A night of partying, drinking, making out under a mistletoe, and making new year resolutions that are hardly ever kept.
Is Dec. 31st / Jan 1st not a night where there are massive car accidents? Where people never even have a chance to finish the end of their Jan. 1st hangover? I mean, friends, what's there to celebrate here, Drunk Drivers Day? Spilled Jewish Blood Day? If one really wanted to honor the Gregorian New Year to make it meaningful and to better themselves and this world instead of having an excuse to dress up and get drunk, then wouldn't it be more fitting to celebrate it with a nice meal with family and friends and some meaningful time for introspection and serious accounting?
When I came to Israel in 1978, Jews didn't celebrate the 'Sylvester' as they call it here. In fact, one was hard up to find a hotel that had some bar open until midnight where they could go and maybe find some sort of partying there. Today? Today it is different. Today the western culture has invaded Israel and our secular youth are celebrating this day (unbeknownst to them) of a Jewish blood bath by an evil anti-Semite. Today on the news, I heard them beseeching people to not drive home after any parties, and that instead taxis would give people a special 'new years discount' to take them home. Yes, we have come to this. But maybe a little history lesson like the one above will make people think again before raising a glass to this historically anti-Semitic day.