JUST as in past years, the Zambian people observed the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 in a spectacular fashion.
In Lusaka, for instance, the start of the New Year was greeted with city-wide firework crackers, whose display lit the sky of Zambian capital city.
Many people had to stay on till 00:00 hours to just observe how Lusakans, youth and elderly alike, and excited at witnessing the new beginning, would welcome 2018.
Punctuated with obviously the disturbing noise of firework crackers, the midnight of December 31, 2017 was indeed a marvel to watch.
For a moment, Lusaka residents were forced to put behind them the sad memories of an outbreak of cholera, which has so far claimed more than 40 lives of the more than 1,700 cases recorded in health institutions.
However, prior to the 00:00 hours, some people had to wait whiling their time in different night spots, while others opted to have a nice time with families and friends at homes.
This has been an annual routine.
Yes, for some people, New Year's Eve, with its emphasis on romance and indulgence, might seem like a totally secular celebration.
Not so for other people who believe that underneath all that glitter and sparkle as witnessed each year-end in various parts of the country is an ancient holiday with deep spiritual roots.
For instance, one English missionary known only as St Boniface is said to have once been appalled at how the Romans celebrated New Year with dancing in the streets, heathenish cries, sacrilegious songs, tables laden with food and women wearing amulets and offering them for sale.
For St Boniface, like many other people, New Year's Day would better be celebrated as a time for setting things straight.
This means the day should be treated as one for a thorough housecleaning, paying off debts, returning borrowed objects, reflecting on one's shortcomings, mending quarrels and, most importantly, giving alms - just like Christmas even though this very important period is behind us.
Indeed as President Edgar Lungu said in his New Year address to the nation, New Year is truly cause for celebration, but must also be treated as a time to show love and care for one another.
The President demonstrated this yesterday when he presented New Year gifts to Bauleni Clinic and Bauleni Primary School in Lusaka.
The same day, acting deputy Air Force commander, who is also chief of air staff, Brigadier-General Chintu Kapotwe, did likewise with a presentation of hampers to Cheshire Homes for the Aged in Lusaka's Chawama Township.
We are told that there was also a presentation of gifts to the New Year babies in the Southern Province capital, Choma.
We thank these, and even other Zambians, for showing this spirit of love for other people, some of whom desperately need a helping hand, and we encourage every Zambian to do the same throughout the year.
Only then will a Happy New Year make sense for all Zambians.