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An Alternative Ritual for the New Year

Circle of people holding hands

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Whether or not you are going to a blow-out party on New Year’s Eve this year, here is a little ritual you can do for yourself or with others to ring in the new year with a little bit more gentleness and intention.

New Year’s Eve isn’t always my favorite holiday. It’s probably the most high-pressure party of the year: you must have fun and you must have someone to kiss at midnight and you must have a New Year’s Resolution that will feel impossible when you’re hungover the next day. These traditions aren’t the most nourishing for our spirits.

Whether or not you are going to a blow-out party on New Year’s Eve this year, here is a little ritual you can do for yourself or with others to ring in the new year with a little bit more gentleness and intention. Doing it ensures that whatever happens that night (and whether you can stay awake until midnight), you’ll feel that you welcomed the new year with the best of intentions. This ritual is best practiced with others, but it can be done alone as well.

If you are with others, create a circle. This could be around the dinner table or a more formal circle. Signify the closed circle in some way, like, for example, lighting candles. If you are alone, set up your space in a similar way so you feel connected to your personal sense of yourself or your relationship with spirit. If you are alone, work with a journal. The ritual has three phases: 

1. Learning 

In phase one, we look back over the last year and think about what we learned. Take a few moments to reflect before anyone speaks. Choose an item to represent focus on one speaker at a time. Anything will do—a feather, a flower, a special gem, or figurine. The person holding the item will express lessons learned to the group while you are holding the special item. The group is in the sacred role of witness and may only respond by saying the words, “We hear you.” If alone, write your lessons down in your journal.

2. Wishes

The second phase is about wishes for the New Year. Go around the circle again, this time expressing your wishes for the New Year. This can be anything—wish as hard and as improbably as you like. Just go ahead and wish. The witnesses may only respond with the words “We wish with you.” If alone, write down your wishes.

3. Plans

The final phase of the ritual is about plans for the future. These are actions you plan to take at some point in the coming year —it doesn’t have to be on New Year’s Day and it may or may not be related to your wishes. Think of three actions you plan to take and get as specific as you can—not simply, “I will make more time for myself,” but rather, “I will book one evening a week off to spend with myself.” Go around the circle one last time with each person naming their three actions. The witnesses may only respond “We believe in you.” If alone, write down the three actions you plan to take and reserve this sheet of paper to keep somewhere you can refer back to it, such as in your wallet or on your nightstand. 

When the circle is complete, members may like to take a few moments to write down their lessons, wishes, and plans, keeping the sheet of paper somewhere close.

When everyone has finished the official parts of the ritual, it’s time to celebrate. Traditionally that means time to feast—time to eat and share food and drink if you’d like. If alone, do something nice for yourself to celebrate—eat, for sure, or take a bath, or dance around the living room, whatever gives you joy.

Happy New Year!                                                          

Try these 20 creative, shame-free New Year’s Resolutions.

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

Learn with Julie! 

Register for Julie's courses Stress Management Skills for Real Life: Practices for a Calmer Happier Life and Moon Goddess Meditations: A 16-night journey of desire, heartache and connection.

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