Happy new year! After a joyful and restorative winter break, we’re thrilled to be back in the classroom with your children.
There’s a picture book we like to share with students at this time of the year that helps extend that feeling of festivity and renewal for months to come. Every Month Is a New Year: Celebrations Around the World, by the acclaimed children’s poet and author Marilyn Singer, is cleverly designed to open like a wall calendar, and takes readers on a tour of new year rituals across the globe. Late January will bring the start of Chinese New Year, when dancers move a giant red dragon through the streets to the sound of drums, chasing away evil spirits and bringing everyone health, wealth and joy. In March, Iranian families will celebrate Nowruz, the beginning of spring, by cleaning the house, strolling under the green pistachio trees and wearing new clothes at a family feast. The vibrant collage illustrations by Susan Roth capture the riot of flowers on the Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash, which is observed in September with the sharing of daisies:
I will gather a
bouquet to give you on this
shining New Year’s Day.
Give me back a smile.
We will all be kings and queens
Singer’s joyful poems explore 16 different traditions, including Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and Matariki, the Maori New Year, which marks the June appearance of the Pleiades star cluster with celebratory kite flying. The closing notes explain how lunar and solar calendars differ, and why many of these festivities are held on different days each year. Every Month Is a New Year is a captivating collection that both looks back at tradition and forward to new beginnings, wherever one might live.
A few lines from “Smashing the Pots,” about the ancient Egyptian holiday of Wep Ronpet, convey the book’s affirming message:
Everyone believes in a different beginning.
But what is true and what is clear
is that all of us hope for a luminous year.
Looking forward to a luminous 2023!