“Happy New Year!”
We will hear that greeting for a few more weeks as the New Year kicks off. But do you know the day celebrated as New Year’s Day in modern America was not always January 1st?
Celebrating New Year is the oldest of all holidays, first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. History shows that somewhere around 2,000BC, the Babylonians observed New Year with the first New Moon (first visible crescent) following the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days, with each day having its own unique celebration. The practice of setting a New Year’s resolution dates back to the early Babylonians. The Babylonians most popular New Year resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year in late March. Continual tampering with the calendar by the Roman emperors eventually caused the calendar to be out of synchronization with the sun.
To reset the calendar, in 153BC the Roman Senate declared January 1st the beginning of the New Year. However, calendar tampering continued until in 46BC Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar. It once again established January 1st as New Year’s Day. To synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year span 445 days. Our practice of the Champaign toast at midnight leads back to the ancient Romans and Greeks.
As the Romans continued to celebrate New Years in the first centuries AD, the early Catholic Church condemned the festivities as paganism. As Christianity became more widespread, the church began having its own religious observances along with many of the pagan celebrations.
The popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the Church to reevaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to celebrate the New Year with a baby, symbolizing the birth of the baby Jesus. New Years is still observed as the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision by some denominations.
Only for the past 400 years have Western nations celebrated New Years as a holiday.
Wishing you a prosperous and rewarding 2012!
Copyright © 2012 REAL Magazine
Links to this article are encouraged