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Looking forward, looking back: A New Year assembly

To reflect upon the significance and opportunities of the New Year.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the significance and opportunities of the New Year.

Preparation and materials

  • An image of the Roman God Janus can be used in this presentation, but is not essential. (Good selection on ‘Google images’.)
  • Two children of similar height to stand back to back to represent Janus.
  • (Optional) A microphone.


  1. Welcome everyone back to school and observe that a new year has begun. It’s January, a month named after the Roman God Janus.

    Explain how, in Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates and doorways, beginnings and endings. He was often pictured with two faces, one looking forward, the other looking back. (Demonstrate by displaying an image of Janus, or invite two children of similar height to stand back to back.)

    Reflect that the New Year is naturally a time for looking forward and looking back.
  2. Invite everyone to look back upon the year that is past. What were the best moments and achievements? (Invite a number of children to share their positive memories. The child who represents Janus looking backwards might operate a microphone or help to choose contributors.)

    Older people in particular often enjoy looking back. Why might this be? (Past memories can bring much happiness and comfort.)
  3. Continue by now inviting everyone to look forward. What are their plans and hopes for the New Year? Has anybody made any New Year resolutions? (Again, invite a number of children to share their hopes and expectations. Enlist the help of the child who represents Janus looking forward.)

    Comment that some may not find it easy to look forward. From time to time, everyone feels anxious about all that lies ahead. Others will be excited and thrilled by the thought of new beginnings and opportunities.
  4. Refer to the children representing Janus and conclude: So there’s something of Janus in all of us. It’s good to look back upon past achievements - but we also can enjoy looking forward to new beginnings!

Time for reflection

Explain that you are going to ask the school community to look in two opposite directions, like Janus.

Turning our heads to the left -

          let’s remember the year that has passed

          and all the friends who have shared it with us.

          Let’s be thankful for all that we have learned and achieved.

Now, turning our heads to the right -
          let’s look forward to the year that has begun
          and resolve to live each day fully and well.
          Let’s be thankful for new beginnings
and not be afraid to make the most of all the opportunities that lie ahead.


‘Travel on’ (Come and Praise, 42)
‘Praise him’ (Come and Praise, 40)

Publication date: January 2012   (Vol.14 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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