Carpe Diem

January 1
A New New Year’s
If Y2K problems don’t plunge your community into chaos (it’s unlikely that computer bugs will hit all on one day), January 1 could seem especially anticlimactic. Since American culture offers few ways to celebrate New Year’s Day beyond nursing hangovers and watching TV’s stupefying cycle of bowl games, it’s up to us to create our own festive celebrations. The 19th-century custom of ice skating and sledding parties could be resurrected in the form of a neighborhood soccer game or family bike ride. Borrowing from English and Scottish traditions, you might throw a wassail party in the woods. According to John Matthews in The Winter Solstice (Quest Books), people gathered in orchards at midday to toast the New Year with jugs of cider, pouring some over the roots of apple trees to ensure good luck (and a plentiful cider supply). If it’s too late to organize anything this year, remember that the new millennium officially begins January 1, 2001.

February 6
Bob Marley’s Birthday

A kid out of the tough Trenchtown ghetto in Kingston, Jamaica, Bob Marley rose to international acclaim as the prophet of the world music movement. Born in 1945, he founded the Wailers at age 16 and played a key role in inventing reggae, which blended traditional Jamaican mento music with R&B sounds inspired by distant Miami and New Orleans radio stations. But calling Marley a reggae star is like calling Duke Ellington a swing pianist–his work transcended any single genre and influenced rock, jazz, folk, African pop, punk, and even country music. Marley also served as a potent symbol of the Third World’s political, cultural, and spiritual resistance to lingering colonial oppression. His birthday, a national holiday in Jamaica, is an occasion for everyone around the globe to listen to his soulful, stirring music.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.