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Hello everyone! Let me wish you a heavily belated Happy New Year! Better yet, let me do it in Esperanto: Feliĉan novjaron! What were your decidecoj this year? Have you done a good job sticking to them so far? (My major resolution for 2016 was to learn to cook using tofu at long last – a relatively unsuccessful pursuit at the moment!)
January is a pretty eventful month for civic-minded people in la Usono, as it features both New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (which occurred on the 18th this year). In my opinion, the two holidays make for a terrific pairing. I’ve always seen New Year’s Day as a celebration of the hope and potential a new calendar year brings, and MLK Day as both a day to honor a civil rights hero and contemplate how much farther we have to go until we achieve his dream of universal justice. Taken together, the two holidays encourage us to hope, to dream, and to work toward building a better world.
In thinking about the two holidays this year, I’ve come to realize they would both make excellent candidates for possible Esperanto holidays, too. The two holidays celebrate values that seem to me to align with what most Esperantists hold dear. I think they’d fit quite nicely within Esperanto culture, consequently.
Consider how Esperanto’s biggest holiday at the moment is Zamenhof Day, which rolls around every 15th of December. Alas, I neglected to post about it when it happened this past year! Coinciding with Dr. Zamenhof’s birthday, Zamenhof Day commemorates the inception of Esperanto, pays respect to its creator, and celebrates the spread of Esperanto and its mission. In that vein, you might also see the day called “Esperanto Literature Day” or “Esperanto Book Day,” in an effort to broaden the celebration to encompass all those writers and artists who contribute to making Esperanto what it is.
If you compare both New Year’s Day and MLK Day to Zamenhof Day, it looks like the things they celebrate overlap nicely. Zamenhof’s overarching project was to bring about world peace and foster global understanding; MLK’s mission to bring about racial equality and justice is a major part of those goals. And if we’re thinking about global peace and understanding, well, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are practically the only holidays that the entire world celebrates together. One glance at a television during New Year’s Eve will show you all the world’s nations counting down to the new year, and taking as much joy in it as the next.
So, if we’re going to add any new holidays to the Esperanto calendar, I propose we take a good, long look at both New Year’s Day and MLK Day!