Illustration and photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Two Not-So-Serious Ways to End the Year Early

For many people, 2020 was a year to remember — and not in a good way, even though September has not yet concluded: a potentially record number of named tropical systems, ridiculous madness surrounding the upcoming presidential election in the United States, wildfires which have raged out of control, record heat in some places, and a pandemic caused by something named either 2019 Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2 or HCoV-19 or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or something like that, which led to unprecedented quarantines, isolation, the disappearance of toilet paper, and the collapse of the travel industry and some other sectors of the worldwide economy…

Two Not-So-Serious Ways to End the Year Early

…and I have seen many people comment on how they would like this year to end already — as early as possible. They likely would not prefer to look back on this year with 20/20 vision.

If you are one of those people who believe that a delineation of time which was created by human beings can mean the difference towards things getting better or worse, then here are two ways in which you can end the year early with the hope of things improving in general.

1. Celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

Challah raisin
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Forget 2020. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the new year for those people of the Jewish faith. The first of the two days of Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown tonight, Friday, September 18, 2020; and the year 5781 begins. Shofar, so good.

The new year is celebrated for ten days before Yom Kippur — which is the day of atonement and the holiest day of the Hebrew calendar — begins on

Even if you are not Jewish, you can still reflect upon the past year now to clear your soul for the new year. Partake in a round raisin challah, which symbolizes goodness without an end and the wish for a sweet and prosperous new year. Cleanse your body by fasting for 25 consecutive hours on Yom Kippur as you reflect upon the past year.

Be forewarned that the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic will not magically disappear if you do this.

שנה טובה — or L’Shana Tova!

2. Head East.

Clock tower — Beirut, Lebanon
Photograph ©2006 by Brian Cohen.

Time zones — which, similar to years, are also imaginary delineations created by human beings — can be your friend.

Sometime towards the end of December of 2020, you can try to venture out to the Republic of Kiribati, which is in the central Pacific Ocean and a full 18 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone of the United States — but be prepared to shell out at least $2,500.00 in airfare to get there.

You could head over to the island of Kiritimati — which is also known as Christmas Island — in Kiribati; or if you can somehow venture almost 960 miles further to the southeast to Caroline Island, you can be one of the first people to welcome the year 2021.

Caroline Island — which is also known by the names of Caroline Atoll, Millennium Island, or Beccisa Island — is the first place on the planet to receive sunlight each day during much of the year. A realignment of the International Date Line back in 1995 meant that Caroline Island became one of the first points of land on Earth to reach Saturday, January 1, 2000 on the calendar — even though it is located due south of the Hawaiian Islands and north of Papeete in the French Polynesian island of Tahiti.

The good news is that because Caroline Island is an uninhabited wildlife sanctuary with no commercial airline service, the chances of contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus are quite low…

…but the bad news is that the words BORDER REMAINS CLOSED UNTIL END OF THIS YEAR appear in bold red letters at the official Internet web site of the president of the Republic of Kiribati; so visiting that country during the year 2020 is ironically likely not an option.

Okay — so perhaps Kiribati is out of the question. If you can find a destination which is the furthest east of where you are based whose border is open to citizens of the country in which you officially reside, you can still end 2020 earlier than usual and enjoy a trip in the process.

Even though the subtitle to this section of this article is Head East, you can instead take a short cut and head west if crossing the International Date Line is a feasible option for you.


empty shelves
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Forget about years and time zones. Nothing lasts forever. The unprecedented and historically hysterical madness which has defined the year 2020 will eventually subside and give way to bigger and better things.

You just have to ride it out until that happens — and that may not occur on Friday, January 1, 2021…

Illustration and photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen. All other photographs ©2016 and ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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