Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thoughts on New Year

An interesting part of our return to Portugal was the onset of the New Year. The coming of a new year in the U.S. always seems to exemplify hope and the idea that one can wipe away past mistakes and setbacks and prepare to take advantage of the boundless opportunities available in the future that is now the present. We show that by making resolutions to better ourselves, and looking forward to the fresh start that the new year always offers. We have started to wonder if that sense of optimism is unique to Americans. Here in Portugal, the country famous for saudade (melancholy/forlornness/homesickness), as is apparent in the cultural music known as fado, the changing of the calendar is more a symbol of getting further into the future, which is looked at with some sadness as it is one year further removed from the glorious past (to which the future can never live up to). There is, of course, a sense of a new beginning, but with more of a hint of nostalgia than of optimism. More like "oh no, I just accepted how things were last year, and now I have to start all over again."

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