The Orthodox Church actually begins her year with September 1, following the tradition of the Byzantine Empire. Russia also rung in the new year in September until Peter the Great, who moved the date of the civil new year to January 1. As an Orthodox seminarian, I didn't quite feel the same way was most of you all in the secular world. Nevertheless, we did have last night a short prayer service (moleben) for the beginning of the civil new year.
One thing that still remains with me psychologically is the sense of the new year being a blank slate, an opportunity for renewal. So, taking advantage of the new year, I will wax reminiscent about the last semester.
I entered Jordanville with a great deal of expectations and fears, mostly involving getting up at 5:30 in the morning. My original intention was actually just to stay for two years and move on to whatever comes next. Whatever the case, my entire life seemed to be shifting gears and changing course.
When I got here, I quickly realized that coming here had not automatically changed me, and the Uncreated Light didn't suddenly burst out of my face the day I stepped into my dorm-room. The same thing applied to my schoolmates: everyone was here with their own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes they got on my nerves, and sometimes I got on theirs. But in the end, I think of my fellow seminarians as “a happy few,” a band of brothers.
Academically, I did fine, though I'm still waiting on my grades. Socially, I have to interact with people on a regular basis, something I haven't really done before. And I think I'm doing okay. Spiritually? Oh, I can't be good with judging myself in that department. However, I will say that I feel better off here than anywhere else. So much for my planned brief sojourn—God willing, I will be here for a few years more.
In a few days, we will be celebrating the Nativity of our Lord. May His light guide you throughout this new year.