As 2020 winds down and we head into a new year, we can take a brief look at the first day of 2020 - how much fun we had, from the days leading to that very day.
The end of each year is filled with many celebrations and festivities that are crowned successfully by the New Years’ Eve and the New Years’ day. You must have had an awesome time with family and friends, looking forward to 2020. We bet none of us had an idea it would be such a crazy year! What matters now is that it’s time for another round of such celebrations, and even though this year came with its peculiarities, we are excited and cannot wait to yell “Happy New Year” once again!
Why Do We Celebrate New Year’s Day?
Well, it is common knowledge that New Year’s Day is celebrated every January 1st. It marks the beginning of every Gregorian calendar year and counts as a milestone for longevity on earth. At the beginning of this year, you sent messages to friends and family congratulating them on a ‘Happy New year 2020’, without being asked to do so. This is major because it is a day that is recognized worldwide, and maybe even the most widely celebrated holiday in the world.
History And Origin Of New Year’s Day
The concept of a new year has undergone a lot of refinements from age-old traditions to date. The history of New Year’s Day celebrations can be traced back to about four thousand (4000) years ago, in the ancient city of Babylon. The Vernal Equinox was the symbol of a new year for the Babylonians. The Vernal Equinox is a day of equal sunshine and darkness and the people marked that as the start of a new year. This was many years before an actual calendar was created.
As time went by, many ancient civilizations began to have a proper sense of time. So, with the help of wise men, mathematicians, and astronomers, they created peculiar calendars to match their beliefs and commemorate the New Year’s Day. The most significant in the timeline of calendars which is widely accepted till date is the Roman Calendar. Initially created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, it was made of 304 days and divided into 10 months. So how did we get here? 12 months and January 1st.
· The Julian Calendar and January 1st
Numa Pompilius was another king of Rome. He is popular for adding two months (Januarius and Februarius). The calendar was maintained for a long time till it fell out of sync with the sun. Julius Caesar, in 46BC, consulted with more advanced astronomers, and together, the Julian Calendar was formed. Julius Caesar’s reform to the calendar instituted January 1st as New Year’s Day and created a solid background for what we have today. The day was celebrated by offering sacrifices to the Roman god of beginnings, Janus.
· Religious Adoption of New Year’s Day
The New Year’s Day we celebrate today is from the Gregorian calendar. It is referred to because Pope Gregory XIII established January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582. Since then, the Gregorian calendar has been accepted worldwide and religious leaders institute dates to give it some religious credence and weight. Per the Gregorian calendar, Christmas day (December 25th) is celebrated exactly a week before New Year’s Day.
New Year Traditions
· New Year’s Eve Celebration
The most common of the new year traditions is the celebration of New Year’s Eve. As earlier satiated, it is celebrated all over the world. Feelings of gratitude, happiness often fill the air. It is also an avenue for remembrance, especially for memorable and notable events that may have occurred during the year. Religious services are held that usher in the new year, offering prayers to their gods for protection and blessings for the year to come.
· New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Songs
New Year’s Eve fireworks have also become a common tradition, especially in western countries. People gather at famous landmarks on New Year’s Eve, and fireworks are used as countdowns to the new year. Songs and sing-alongs like "Auld Lang Syne" and others are also commonly used to create great atmospheres in public places in the hours leading to a new year. There’s something for dating or married couples in this. The last firework is usually followed by a kiss, which is another celebratory gesture for New Year’s Day.
· New Year, New Me
The tradition of New Year resolutions is also worthy of note. With many people saying ‘New Year, New Me”, new year resolutions have been proven to be effective in effecting changes in character and behaviours. Humans started to use landmark dates such as New Year’s to track such changes and evaluate themselves. This tradition started as far back as the first Babylonian New Year’s Day. History recalls that the ancient Babylonians made promises on the day, vowed to live better and also to serve their gods better.
· New Year’s Day Food
Across various cultures, various meals symbolize different things about New Year’s Day celebrations. They are often served at large New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day dinners and buffets. In Hungary, Cuba, and Portugal, pigs are served as New Year’s Eve lunch. The animals are symbols of prosperity and so it is widely believed that eating them on the eve of the new year will bring blessings in the new year. In Italy and some parts of the United States, legumes are eaten as a symbol of future financial buoyancy.
European countries such as the Netherlands and Greece have a tradition of serving rounded or ring-shaped snacks to symbolize the completion of a year. Some other countries prepare puddings with raisins or almonds hidden in them. The one who finds such hidden objects is said to be blessed with 12 months of good fortune in the new year.
What Can You Do On New Year’s Day?
The first countries to celebrate every New Year’s Day are the pacific island nations, and then New Zealand. They are then followed by Australia, South Korea, and China. The last sets of countries to celebrate, however, are American Samoa and the Baker Islands. Wherever you are, in any of these places or anywhere in the world, there are tonnes of things to do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Vacationing is easily the most fun thing to do during or around New Year’s Day. A lot of holiday resorts are open and will be filled during this time. It’s a great way to relax, unwind, and prepare yourself for the new year.
What To Do On New Year’s Eve
A lot of major events also take place around the world on New Year’s Eve. The major fireworks across the world can be found in major cities. Hosting tens of thousands of people, fireworks and gatherings are very memorable. Popular cities that host such include, Sydney, New York, Dubai, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Rio De Janeiro.
On New Year’s Eve in Sydney, the Sydney harbour has a firework show that is watched by hundreds of thousands of people along the shore. If you’re in Copenhagen, Denmark, there is a gathering of people at the Town square for fireworks, rockets, and the burning of candles on New Year’s Eve. At about 11 pm on New Year’s Eve, in Barcelona, people gather at Plaça d’Espanya to watch the fireworks display and from midnight till about 6 am, Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum, a few meters away, hosts a large dance party.
In Berlin, Germany, there is an open-air party that stretches about 2 miles between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Fireworks, music, and food continue till about 3 am on New Year’s Day. In Amsterdam, the place to be is the “Skinny Bridge” or the Magere Brug. With fireworks, thousands of merrymakers, and great music, it is a fun place to be. New York is home to the most highly anticipated New Year’s party. The fireworks and the dropping of a huge ball at Times Square is a very old USA New Year tradition. It has been on since the 1900s and has continued yearly to date.
Wherever you are, people will be out celebrating. If you are not religious and don't have to be in some place of worship, you can hang out with friends at a bar or a park and watch fireworks together.
2020 has been a tough year and surviving it is enough to celebrate. With all of this great knowledge about New Year’s Day and why it is celebrated, it should be of greater significance to us. There are different things to kick off the celebrations from New Year’s Eve, and they still run into the new year. If you’re in major cities and want to join in celebrations and traditions, great. If you’re in your small town and just want to have a great time with friends and family, in or out, also great!
What’s key is that you enjoy yourself and have an awesome New Year’s celebration.
From us, it's a Happy New Year 2021 in advance!