In no time, the world will go into a frenzy celebrating a new year. Optimism will be at its highest because of how much of a rollercoaster the year 2020 was. It’s a great time to be with family and a worthy way to round off the yuletide holidays.
People across the world celebrate for various reasons. The major reason for celebration is gratitude for surviving the ending year. For a year as turbulent as 2020, one would see that New Year’s Day is worth celebrating.
As important as it is, taking its position as the most celebrated event worldwide, the New Year’s Day celebration started from somewhere. It did not become an automatic event overnight as a lot of processes went into declaring January 1st of every year as New Year’s Day. In this article, we will talk about the history, facts, and traditions worldwide that are behind this date.
History of New Year
The first idea of what we now celebrate as New Year’s Day can be traced back to over 4000 years ago. This was far before man had the idea of time and modern-day civilizations, as you can see today. The people of the ancient city of Babylon celebrated it. The Babylonians marked New Year’s Day on the day of the Vernal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox was the day that they experienced equal sunlight and equal darkness, equal day and night.
They marked this day as the start of a new year with feasts, celebrations, and sacrifices to their gods. P.S. This was before any calendar or clock was made!
Origin of New Year
As the world progressed and developments came, man grew a proper sense of time. With that, they created various calendars to match lifestyles, events, celebrations, and cultures. The calendar that grew into what we have today - commemorating New Year’s Day is the Roman calendar. The founder of Rome, Romulus created the Roman calendar. Romulus crafted the first calendar, comprising 10 months and 304 days.
The calendar remained in use till another Roman King, Numa Pompilius, added two months, Januarius and Februarius to the calendar. They used this 12-month calendar for a long time till it fell out of order with the sun. In 46BC, Julius Caesar, the ever-popular Roman emperor, also made his input to this calendar. He instituted January 1st as New Year’s Day and named the calendar the “Julian Calendar.”
In 1852, the then Pope, Gregory XII made the New Year’s Day established as January 1st and this also drew wide religious acceptance. It gained much more acclaim as it comes just a week after Christmas day. They drew the Gregorian calendar that is now used worldwide from his name.
New Year’s Resolution History
One common tradition that follows the New Year’s Day celebration is the New Year's resolutions. New year resolutions can be traced back to age-old Babylonians. Historians have found that the Babylonians on the day of the Vernal Equinox made promises and pledges to serve their gods better, be of better character, and pay back their debts. Over the years, this has influenced the making of New Year resolutions as practiced today.
History of New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is believed to have been celebrated with New Year’s Day from time - with celebrations usually starting from late in the night of the eve till the nights of January 1st. From Babylon, it involved offering bountiful sacrifices and killing of animals to offer to gods for a successful year. This has evolved to gatherings at popular squares for fireworks and New Year celebrations.
New Year’s History Facts
Below are a few facts that are key in the history of New Year’s Day;
· The first month of January, was coined from Januarius. Januarius is named after Janus, who is the Roman god of beginnings and endings. This was why Julius Caesar made January 1st New Year’s Day.
· Ancient Egyptian culture celebrated New Year’s Day when the brightest star, “Sirius”, became visible after a long period of absence. Their New Year was known as a time of rejuvenation.
· The Calendars as they evolved were developed by ancient astronomers, mathematicians, and wise men.
· The sun was known to be a key factor in determining time and date in ancient times. Thus, the need to upgrade each calendar after it lost synchrony with the sun.
With all this information about New Year’s Day and how it came to be, you will celebrate New Year’s Day with a greater sense of the origin and history of the day.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year 2021!