happy new year
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The New Year is upon us. For the past few weeks, most of us have been inundated with New Year greetings. And it’s always the same old trite Happy New Year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do wish everyone happiness especially when we start a new year, but surely there are other, more creative ways to wish your dear ones. I mean, don’t you think this phrase, Happy New Year, has lost its meaning because it’s repeated ad nauseam?

How you wish a person, the words you use, would depend a great deal on their personality and lifestyle. I think wishing someone from the heart, and using words that really mean what you say, has so much more depth than the dull and vapid Happy New Year. It is important to personalise your new year greeting, keeping in mind the age and occupation of the recipient.

How would you wish a student? The young are a breed apart, and would not even bother to read your message if it were just a Happy New Year. Think of it. Students have to be challenged, they have to move out of their comfort zone and be stretched intellectually if they are to realise their full potential. What better way than to wish him or her a challenging new year?

An artist? How about a creative New Year? A businessman? Well, you can wish all traders a prosperous New Year. But this is a bit too close to the trite “happy and prosperous New Year” that we hear so frequently. So perhaps you can wish them a New Year full of money-bags, or a year when they constantly hear the jingle-jangle of coins.

Yes, you can be as creative as you wish. To the old, you can wish them a healthy New Year, to the very young an exciting New Year. If you happen to know the pet likes or favourite hobbies of the person, you can base your wishes accordingly — perhaps good innings to a cricket lover, or a reading-filled year to a book-lover. The list is endless, and the only limit is your imagination.

Talking of New Years, there are as many New Years as there are religions and cultures. The Islamic New Year follows the lunar calendar, with the date dependent on the moon. The Chinese New Year starts in February. The Iranian New Year coincides with the beginning of Spring or the Vernal Equinox. In many cultures, the New Year coincides with Spring, usually in mid-April. In most other cultures, you congratulate people with a “mubarak” on the special day. Far more sensible, in my opinion, than wishing them a Happy New Year.

Lessons from the UAE

The UAE has declared 2019 to be the Year of Tolerance. This is especially relevant, given the state of the world we live in, where intolerance rules. Tolerance can be on many levels — within the family, the country, among cultures and religions, and indeed within yourself. The UAE has many lessons to teach the rest of the world about true tolerance. Go to any office, or any shopping mall, and you’ll see people of different races and colour working together amicably.

But how else can we practise tolerance? Perhaps by not getting furious at that driver who speeds and overtakes us from the wrong side, perhaps by speaking with greater kindness to our family members who we often take for granted, perhaps also by being not so hard on ourselves for minor slip-ups and transgressions.

Did you break your New Year’s resolution of eating healthy by wolfing down that samosa? Never mind, just start over again.

In this Year of Tolerance, may your head and heart be in true alignment. May 2019 be for you a year of tolerance, of true peace and contentment.

Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer.