Literature of the New Year: Literary Variations on the Celebration of the New Year


  • Jalal Uddin Khan PhD (NYU New York), Adjunct Professor, General Studies English, Yorkville University, Canada



New Year, Sylvia Plath, Literary Variations


Is the New Year really new or old? Happy or sad? Is it only part of the process and the cycle of seasons making one look back and think of death? Is it a time to wish to stay where one is or hope for opportunities and possibilities? Like a point in a circle, is every day a New Year’s day? Is it a time for nostalgia and reminiscence or promises and resolutions for the future? With the (Gregorian and the British Government) changes in the Western calendar at different times in history and with different countries/cultures celebrating the New Year at different times of the year and with the fiscal year, political (election) year, and academic year being different from the traditional New Year of January 1st, does the New Year mark the beginning and the ending in just an arbitrary way? Centuries ago Britain’s earliest Poets Laureate introduced the tradition of writing a New Year poem. Since then there have been many authors writing New Year essays and poems. They include Robert Herrick, Charles Cotton, Johann Von Goethe, S. T. Coleridge, Charles Lamb, Lord Alfred Tennyson, William Cullen Bryant, Helen Hunt Jackson, Emily Dickinson, George Curtis, Thomas Hardy, Fiona Macleod (William Sharp), D. H. Lawrence, Rabindranath Tagore, and Sylvia Plath, among others.


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"Christianity found that a number of Celtic customs were compatible with their religion and hence adopted them. The Church adopted Samhain as the Feast of All Saints or Hallow Tide and Oidhche Shamhna became Halloween."

Visit; Theodor H. Gaster, New Year: its history, customs, and superstitions (New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1955).

In classical times, poets were crowned with a laurel wreath (emblems of a poet). The Italian Francis Petrarch (1304-74)

David Lazar, "Reading ˜New Year Eve," in Understanding the Essay, eds. Patricia Foster and Jeff Porter (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2012), pp. 206-217.

"A deleted 1899 on the manuscript suggested he had written it a year before," Claire Tomalin tells us in her biography of Hardy, Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man (Viking Penguin, 2006).

From The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, ed. Sisir Kumar Das (Sahityo Akademi, New Delhi: 2004), p. 320.




How to Cite

Khan, J. U. (2019). Literature of the New Year: Literary Variations on the Celebration of the New Year. International Journal Online of Humanities, 5(4), 29–56.