I’ve mentioned in passing that I decided this year to change my new year – and move it to the start of February.

While it feels like the most sensible and aligned decision I’ve made in some time, a few people have asked me why, so I thought I’d explain in a bit more detail in case anyone is interested!

New Year rituals

For my entire adult life, I’ve had various planning and reviewing processes around the end of each year and the start of the next.

From my own diaries, to business workbooks, to journal prompts, to the wonderful Unravelling Your Year by Susannah Conway, there has always been a handwritten element to how I process the previous twelve months, and look ahead to the next.

When it comes to looking back and looking forward, I think better with a pen in my hand than in front of a screen, and am never happier than when I have a fountain pen in hand and a blank page of nice paper (or even better, a notebook) in front of me.

Over the years I’ve created rituals to go with this – delicious food, at least one dedicated day to do a chunk of it uninterrupted, my favourite drinks, tarot & oracle cards, candles. To celebrate the good and acknowledge the challenging, remember it, and then say goodbye and look forward has been incredibly useful to me since I first started doing it. I don’t have resolutions but I do set intentions and goals, and make lists of what I want to do, experience and feel in the next year.

The day I choose changes – for a while it was New Year’s Eve itself, but it depends what else is going on that year.

And yet, traditionally all of this takes place in December, so I have my plans written out and typed up, my words chosen and my cards drawn for the year ahead by the end of New Year’s Day, so I can stamp my words for the year on to my bracelet and head into the new year.

So far, so standard, right? Millions of people use January 1st as a new start, making lists of resolutions, etc.

But… December is easily the most insane month of the year. It’s also one of the darkest, it’s by far the most expensive, and I am always already exhausted from the year and from the September-onwards ramping up of events and sales for Christmas. There are friends to catch up with, family to see, Christmas dos for every organisation I’m part of and lots of extra fun stuff like pantomimes and overseas friends visiting, too.

Why the hell would I also try to squidge in thinking time and my precious planning and reviewing time, when I am always at the end of my tether by about the third of December?!

Choosing my own new year

As December 2022 ramped up its chaos, I found myself getting more and more stressed when I couldn’t find time for my thinking and journalling activities. And then I got ill right at the end of the year – which was a massive ballache and meant I missed my precious winter solstice celebrations with friends, but also meant I was forced to reassess my plans.

As I was writing birthdays, anniversaries, other significant dates and all the pagan festivals into my calendar and diary as usual for 2023, I realised that the answer was staring me in the face.

January is traditionally quiet on all fronts for all my businesses – I often have enquiries and meetings and maybe a shoot or two, but it’s a cold, long and dreary month, the weather isn’t ideal and most people are either paying off Christmas or fretting about getting their tax return done.

Imbolc, the pagan festival which marks the start of spring, is 1-2 February – and as I wrote this in my calendar I realised that it is an obvious choice for me as the start of my own new year.

Samhain, on 31st October, is the “official” new year if you follow a pagan calendar, but trying to plan at the start of winter felt even weirder to me than doing it in December.

So this year, I have given myself all of January to review, plan, plot and ponder, alongside getting back into the swing of things for business and yes, also resting a bit more than usual.

My usual final rituals of hammering my chosen words of the year into a bracelet, completing, printing and binding my plans and having some still, quiet time to acknowledge the departure of the previous year and to welcome the new – I am doing those in the first two days of February, and it feels just right.

The coming of Spring always feels positive to me, and like a turning point of the year. While February is often cold, it also holds my birthday, is a speedy short month, and most joyous of all, I will already have submitted my tax return and paid my tax bill because the deadline is 31 January!

I had also planned to revive my previous practice of sending New Year cards instead of Christmas ones before I made this decision, which fits in quite nicely. Sadly due to a bereavement in early January I am on the fence about this, this year. I can’t quite imagine sending all my cards and not sending one to her, so perhaps that is a tradition I will start again next year.

The only thing that’s confusing me is why it’s taken me so long to figure this out – but as this particular January has also not been a good one, with bereavement and other things going on, I am hopeful it’s a decision and a new tradition that will last me many years.

Do you plan your year or do you take each month as it comes? I’m hoping to write more about my business and personal planning this year, as I’ve had lots of questions about it recently!