How does the New Year's concept works? I mean, is it necessary for the masses or can we live without it?

Assume that the Earth takes a billion years instead of one year to go all around the Sun. Then the days will pass 'forever' and we will not have a sense of New Year.

Then the real question is:

How does the New Year's concept affects our perspective about time and traditions?

Because in that case, we wouldn't be able to celebrate special dates such as Birthdays or the Independence Day or Remarkable Accomplishments.

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    Is there any chance you might be able to share a little bit more about the context and motivations of the problem here? (I mean: what exactly is the issue, in terms of your study of philosophy, that you would like someone here to explain to you?) What hypotheses have you formed and what has your research uncovered so far? – Joseph Weissman Jan 1 '15 at 22:32

Without a natural phenomenon to pin it on, humans would create arbitrary periods for measuring stretches of time.

This has been done, for example, with the 'week', which has no basis in nature. The same goes for the 24 hours in a day etc. In many calendar systems the 'year' is inspired by the solar year but is not exactly defined by the position of Earth in the orbit.

On a larger scale, humans have created arbitrary points of significance based on the decimal system, such as centuries and millennia, which are celebrated as special events.

So if Earth would have had a billion year orbit, humans would have likely developed an arbitrary period similar to year. Probably not exactly 365 days, but it could have been something like 50 weeks or 100 weeks or any other arbitrary conveneant period.

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  • Great answer, just one minor quibble. Aren't all measurements of time based on some natural phenomenon? Weeks are 7 days and days are based on the sun. Even time-keeping -- which may seem arbitrary -- is based on natural phenomena like the vibration of a quartz crystal. In fact, if you take the view that time is change in matter, then the notion of time vanishes. If there were no change, there would be no time. Even our own "perception" of time is an awareness of a mental change, which is based on the natural phenomena of the body. – R. Barzell Jan 2 '15 at 14:20
  • Obviously, we depend on natural phenomena to measure time, but I think this question is specific about how things would be different without years, not how they would be different without time altogether. – user55318 Jan 2 '15 at 15:18
  • Agreed; however, your first sentence stated that humans would create arbitrary periods for measurement, which seemed to imply a lack of any natural phenomena as a basis (although by my own objection, even this arbitrary period would be a mental thing which is a natural phenomena, lol!). Anyway, just pointing out something that may benefit from a bit of clarification. I up-voted your answer, so this is just a minor thing. – R. Barzell Jan 2 '15 at 15:24

One more revolution around the sun = mark of solstice (sort of .. actually it's a couple of weeks afterwards) = something that affects everyone globally, so we all find a way to mark the actual percieved or agreed specific time that this event occurs.

How does it affect our persepective about time and traditions?

If you consider it as marking a completion of the orbit of the sun (ie, a pattern of expected weather and daylight has completed), then it marks a time like the harvest festival or the summer solstice which is directly related to farming and gathering of crops etc, and probably goes back to early man. Stonehenge is 4,000 years old (possibly older) and has been thught of as a computer for predicting seasons. Nearby Avebury Standing Stones (also v. old) almost certainly is.

But a more modern take is that the old calendar for last year has run out and now I need to buy a new diary, haha. With that comes a notion of "well that's how I handled last year, how am I going to handle this year?" which I guess is where new year's resolutions come from. That notion of "improvement on last time" must be pretty ancient.

Regarding perspective of time : If we didn't celebrate or note new year, then we'd fix on something else like christmas, birthday, or a solstice. It's natural for us to identify regular markers and check ourselves against them. I mean it's natural in that such things as the solstice, or midday, or movements of the moon, have presented themselves and probably helped define our notion of time: A measurement of cycles of a regularly occurring event.

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