Today we are welcoming the New Year 2021. This day marks the beginning of the 21st year of the 21st century. This is the first day of the year as per both the modern Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar. History shows that New Year's Day was marked on January 1 for the first time in 45 BC under the Julian calendar. With the passage of time, Pope Gregory recognised January 1 as the beginning of the New Year in line with his reform of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. This occasion now is not confined to the Christians only. People throughout the globe celebrate this day with fireworks at the stroke of midnight, grand feasts, and numerous other fun activities. They also exchange greetings to mark this important occasion. There has been practice among people to make New Year's resolutions as well.
In addition, parades are organised in some countries to mark this occasion. London’s New Year’s Day Parade, Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade, and Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade are considered as some of the prominent events. This day also witnesses several famous sporting events in the United Kingdom and the United States. With gradual changes in their lifestyle, Nepalis, especially youths, are also found celebrating the English New Year with much fanfare just like they mark the Nepali New Year on Baisakh 1. The year 2020 was tumultous from the point of view of human health safety due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic at an alarming rate worldwide. The lethal virus disease took lives of more than 1.8 million and infected well over 83 million people worldwide. The global public health crisis has caused an unprecedented economic slump throughout the world. Nepal has also suffered significantly from this contagion, with more than 260,000 infections and about 1,850 deaths so far.
The country had to go for various restrictions, including a nationwide lockdown, for 120 days starting from March 24. As the restrictions led to the closure of all the industries and other businesses, the country’s economy was in the doldrums. The government had to cancel Visit Nepal Year 2020 (VNY) as the COVID-19 pandemic hit almost all the nations across the world. With that national tourism campaign, the government had planned to boost the country’s tourism industry by welcoming two million international visitors by the end of 2020. Ironically, the country hosted only a few thousands of tourists. With the contagion transmitting globally, the country is still in a wait and see situation when it comes to revival of international tourism. However, there are high hopes that the global situation will return to normalcy, with several developed nations launching vaccination against the deadly virus disease.
Nepal also underwent unwanted political turbulence in 2020 due to the escalating feuds within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved the House of Representatives and announcement of fresh elections after he failed to gain necessary support from his party colleagues. Anyway, the country is expected to regain political stability and economic growth in 2021. With the government initiating the process of importing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease, the fear for the virus disease might be over this year. We hope that the New Year will bring health and happiness to the whole humanity, notably a victory over the COVID-19 pandemic and resumption of normal life.