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Near Year's Wishes

December 29, 2018
by Mark David Siegel

Hi Everyone:

My family and I are closing out 2018, exploring fishing villages north of Montreal. We spent the night in Point-du-Lac, and this morning it’s -3 degrees outside. Today we may venture onto a frozen lake, drill holes in the ice, and stand guard over fishing lines. If so, my new L.L.Bean Park Service-grade down coat—black and bulky with a furry hood—will protect me from the cold. More likely we’ll go skating through the woods before sipping drinks in a pub somewhere, sampling fish or game caught by hardier Quebecois.

Heide and the girls drove to Canada the day after Christmas, leaving me behind with left-over duck breast, cherry sauce, gravlax, pork belly, and pate. I spent three days in the MICU with a phenomenal team. If I’m going to stay in New Haven to work, I’ll choose the MICU every time.

Looking back, I think 2018 was ultimately a good year, despite the tragedies and frustrations. True, there were hurricanes, wildfires and tsunamis, and yes we endured another year of gun violence and opioid deaths. We’ll also remember 2018 as the year our government separated toddlers from parents whose only “crime” was to seek sanctuary in America. But I also saw reason for hope.

I saw high school students advocating for gun control, days after a mass shooting. I saw astounding investigative journalism, uncovering lies, crimes, and corporate greed. I saw our residents pursuing exceptional science, teaching, and clinical medicine. For these and many other reasons, I look forward to 2019.

We can meet any challenge together. When others deny patients health care, we’ll turn no one away. When others wallow in victimhood, we’ll be heroes. When others claim helplessness, we’ll take charge. When others retreat into tribes, we’ll open our doors. When others troll opponents, we’ll speak respectfully and honestly. When others exploit the vulnerable, we’ll defend their rights. When others fall for alternative facts, we’ll seek the truth. When others condone bigotry, we’ll embrace diversity. When others succumb to fear, we’ll choose courage. When others descend into cynicism, we’ll ascend to higher ideals.

In the icy days ahead, let’s wrap ourselves in coats of honesty, integrity, empathy, and compassion. It’s a joy to begin 2019 with you, my residency family. Let this year be a good one. Let us make it so.

Happy New Year, everyone,


As promised, Happy New Years from around the world:

  • Albanian (Fludi Naka): Gëzuar Vitin e Ri
  • Filipino (Maricar Malinas): Manigong Bagong Taon
  • Ukrainian (Andrey Zinchuk): "з новим роком!” (pronounced - "z novym rokom!,” translates word for word as “with a new year!")
  • Chinese
    • Nona Jiang: In Mandarin, Happy New Year is 新年快乐 (Xīn Nián Kuài Lè) (Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is usually in January/February and is the biggest holiday of the year in China! There are so many traditions including giving red envelopes (hongbao) which contain money that are given to children by their parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles etc. In addition, cooking whole fish at New Year is a tradition as the Chinese word for fish is a homonym for the word "abundance" and thus having fish is thought to bring you prosperity.)
    • Dan Federman: I say, "Gung she fat tsay", which I believe is Happy New Year in Chinese. It is the only Chinese I know and since I am in a multi-cultural situation, I get to use it 3 times/year: Secular new year, Chinese New Year, and Rosh Hashana.
    • Yiduo Hu: 新年快乐,猪年吉祥
      • More from Yiduo: This is Simplified Chinese Mandarin, means "Happy New Year, Best Luck in the Year of Pig".
  • German
    • Urs Weber and Max Stahl: Frohes neues Jahr!
    • Jan Bewersdorf: Gutes Neues Jahr (There are no special German New Year traditions but fireworks on New Year's Eve are very popular. Additionally, fish (traditionally carp) is a very popular dish for New Year's Day.)
    • Lissa Sugeng: Guten Rutsch und Frohes Neues Jahr
  • French (Urs Weber and Sarah Hull): Bonne Année!
    • More information from Sarah: Literally "good year" or "have a good year"
  • Swahili (Rita Okumu): “Mwaka Mjema”
  • Arabic (Safa Abdelhakim): Kol aam w antom be khair كل عام و انتم بخير
  • Vietnamese (Daniel Bui): Chúc mừng năm mới! (Pronounced similarly to its spelling, except “Chúc” sounds more like “Chup")
  • Spanish (Jose Duarte and María Diaz Soto): Feliz año nuevo!!
    • More from María: Not sure if these new year traditions are Colombian or Latin American but we eat 12 grapes and make a wish with each of them for the next 12 months of the year , and we grab some traveling bags and go outside the house around the block with them to travel a lot the next year !
  • Hindi
    • Shaili Gupta: Nav varsh ki shubh kaamnayein (India is a multicultural, madly diverse country. When and how new year is celebrated depends on the religion, and region. Since everyone likes to celebrate with each other, you end up with festivities for this or that pretty much all year. :-) Among Hindus alone, there are about 17 different new year days based on solar/lunar cycle. Everyone has their own traditional dessert and meal that must be had with family and friends that day, new clothes must be worn, doors are decorated with leaves or colorful starched cloth, there are traditional dances to be danced with drums, and hallways, driveways, courtyards are decorated with geometric patterns created with colorful powders (called "rangoli"). Good memories.)
    • Avi Singh: नये साल की शुभकामनाएँ - Hindi - Naye saal ki shubhkamnaye
  • Punjabi (Avi Singh): ਨਵਾ ਸਾਲ ਮੁਬਾਰਕ - Punjabi - Nawa saal mubarak
  • Polish (Camilla Powierza): Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!
  • Korean (Hyung Chun and Jakob Park): 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae bok manh-i ba-deu-se-yo_
  • Greek (Antonios Charokopos): Χαρούμενο και ευλογημένο το Νέο Έτος!
  • Tamil (Chandrika Kumar): Puthandu nalvalthukkal " is how I ring in the new year with my family. (Going to the temple and offering flowers to the different deities is what we usually do.)
  • Portuguese (Ana Perdigoto): Feliz Ano Novo
  • Russian (Natalie Medvedeva): С Новым годом
  • Special Traditions from Julia Perry: My mother comes from a long line of incredibly superstitious people and as a result she instilled into my sister and me a number of odd New Years even practices:
    • Filling all the salt and pepper shakers to assure you have food in the new year
    • Putting a few coins outside before the new year that you bring in the following morning to assure you have enough money in the new year
    • Eating pork because the pig roots forward, never eating chicken because they scratch backwards (exposes my non-Jewish roots!)
    • Black eyed peas and saying rabbit as the clock strikes midnight for good luck
  • Armenian (Andy Abovian): shnorhavor nor darin
  • Turkish (Denizhan Ozdemir): Mutlu yıllar!
  • Urdu (Naseema Merchant): In Urdu which is the language we speak in Pakistan , we say “ Nayaa Saal Mubarak “ meaning happy new year . Nayaa means new, Saal means year and Mubarak means happy.
  • Indonesian (Aidan Milner and Lissa Sugeng): Selamat Tahun Baru!”
    • More from Lissa: I don't remember a specific Indonesian New Year tradition, but we have a tradition in our little family unit: Playing Monopoly into the New Year!
  • Farsi (Reza Hosseini): “سال نو مبارک” (transliteration: sale no mobarak/Happy New Year)
    • More from Reza: The New Year in Iran does not begin on January 1st, but rather on the first day of spring. This usually falls around March 21st on the Gregorian calendar (which also happens to be my birthday!) Unlike the western New Year, the Persian New Year, called “Nowruz” (Now=New, Ruz=Day) does not have a regular time (i.e., midnight) but follows the exact timing of the vernal equinox. This means sometimes it happens in the middle of the night! No matter when it happens, we make sure to stay up or wake up at the moment of equinox, in order to say to all our family members and friends: “سال نو مبارک” (transliteration: sale no mobarak/Happy New Year). When we wish our family and friends Happy New Year, we call only those who are older in age or generation than us. In this way, the youngest members of the family show their respect for all the older members, and the eldest members receive calls from everyone in their family. We wish them health and happiness, and tell them how happy we are to still be with them in this New Year. Just as other cultures prepare their homes for the New Year, in Persian culture we give our homes a literal spring cleaning. Whereas many Americans bring Christmas trees into their homes in December, we grow small patches of fresh green grass in the month leading up to Nowruz. On the day itself, we gather at the home of our eldest family member to celebrate and enjoy delicious dishes, such as fish with herbed rice (sabzi polo ba mahi) and dried fruit with mixed nuts (agil). We admire the family’s haft sin, a carefully arranged display of seven special items symbolizing the start of spring. Older members of the family give younger ones gifts of freshly minted bills, which have been meticulously saved within the pages of important or sacred books, such as the Quran or poetry of Hafiz. Nowruz continues for the first two weeks of the New Year, and we spend the holiday visiting and celebrating with family and friends. P.S. Below is a picture of my parent’s haft sin from last year:

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on December 31, 2018