Have you not ask yourself why we celebrate New Year’s Day? Why, of the three hundred sixty five days in a year, January 1 is the celebrated day for New Year? The least, why celebrate?
Actually, the celebration of New Year’s Day every January 1 has started during Julius Caesar’s time. Caesar changed the New Year’s Day to January 1 to honor Janus, who the month of January is named after. Janus is the God of All Beginnings. He was always depicted with two faces: one looking into the past and one looking into the future. Perhaps, that’s the reason people gain the concept of having New Year’s Resolution, to serve as your guide for the entire year to come.
But before we celebrate New Year’s Day every January 1, various dates were assigned for the feast depending on its era.
Celebrating the New Year dates back over four thousand years, but while the celebration is nothing new, the day of celebration has changed over the millennia.
The Egyptians celebrated the New Year every September, at the time the River Nile flooded. The flooding of the Nile was an important event because it allowed the Egyptians to grow crops in an otherwise arid climate.
The Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The celebration fall every end of March. This made sense because spring was seen (and is still seen) as a time of rebirth. It was also the time to plant new crops.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year in March, but each new emperor had the desire to tamper with the calendar. This resulted in the calendar being out of synch with the sun. In an attempt to correct things, the Roman senate declared January first to be the start of the New Year, but emperors continued to tamper with the calendar. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar, whom the month of July was named after, established the Julian calendar in 46 BC that the calendar was finally back in synch with the sun.
The Middle Ages and the Church
Not all civilizations celebrated the New Year on January 1. Some areas, most notably Britain, still observed the New Year in March. One of the reasons they refused to recognize January 1 as New Year’s Day was that many Puritans saw the Festival of Janus as a pagan celebration and wanted nothing to do with it.
The Catholic Church was also not thrilled that people were celebrating the New Year and condemned the festivities as pagan. While the Church remained opposed to the idea of “celebrating” the New Year, as Christianity became more widespread, the Church adopted its own religious observances on New Year’s Day, also the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision.
New Year Today
While celebrating the New Year on January 1 did spread, most of the Western world didn’t recognize this date until about 400 years ago.
And, of course people of certain religions or nationalities may celebrate the New Year on different days of the year.
New Year’s is a time of rebirth, a time for people to start over and get things under control. Of course bringing in the New Year without a few traditions just wouldn’t be any fun. Hence a number of New Year’s traditions have sprouted up over the years. Next week we will further learn these traditions. I’m sure you’ll also find it interesting the way I do.
Have a Blessed New Year to one and all!