I Hate New Year’s Day

occupation

This text was first pub­lished in Avan­ti!, Turin edi­tion, from his col­umn “Sot­to la Mole,” Jan­u­ary 1, 1916.

Every morn­ing, when I wake again under the pall of the sky, I feel that for me it is New Year’s day.

That’s why I hate these New Year’s that fall like fixed matu­ri­ties, which turn life and human spir­it into a com­mer­cial con­cern with its neat final bal­ance, its out­stand­ing amounts, its bud­get for the new man­age­ment. They make us lose the con­ti­nu­ity of life and spir­it. You end up seri­ous­ly think­ing that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new his­to­ry is begin­ning; you make res­o­lu­tions, and you regret your irres­o­lu­tion, and so on, and so forth. This is gen­er­al­ly what’s wrong with dates.

They say that chronol­o­gy is the back­bone of his­to­ry. Fine. But we also need to accept that there are four or five fun­da­men­tal dates that every good per­son keeps lodged in their brain, which have played bad tricks on his­to­ry. They too are New Years’. The New Year’s of Roman his­to­ry, or of the Mid­dle Ages, or of the mod­ern age.

And they have become so inva­sive and fos­sil­is­ing that we some­times catch our­selves think­ing that life in Italy began in 752, and that 1490 or 1492 are like moun­tains that human­i­ty vault­ed over, sud­den­ly find­ing itself in a new world, com­ing into a new life. So the date becomes an obsta­cle, a para­pet that stops us from see­ing that his­to­ry con­tin­ues to unfold along the same fun­da­men­tal unchang­ing line, with­out abrupt stops, like when at the cin­e­ma the film rips and there is an inter­val of daz­zling light.

That’s why I hate New Year’s. I want every morn­ing to be a new year’s for me. Every day I want to reck­on with myself, and every day I want to renew myself. No day set aside for rest. I choose my paus­es myself, when I feel drunk with the inten­si­ty of life and I want to plunge into ani­mal­i­ty to draw from it new vigour.

No spir­i­tu­al time-serv­ing. I would like every hour of my life to be new, though con­nect­ed to the ones that have passed. No day of cel­e­bra­tion with its manda­to­ry col­lec­tive rhythms, to share with all the strangers I don’t care about. Because our grand­fa­thers’ grand­fa­thers, and so on, cel­e­brat­ed, we too should feel the urge to cel­e­brate. That is nau­se­at­ing.

I await social­ism for this rea­son too. Because it will hurl into the trash all of these dates which have no res­o­nance in our spir­it and, if it cre­ates oth­ers, they will at least be our own, and not the ones we have to accept with­out reser­va­tions from our sil­ly ances­tors.

– Trans­lat­ed by Alber­to Toscano

Author of the article

was an Italian Marxist revolutionary and a leader of the Italian Communist Party who was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime.