Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year of Knowledge: New Year's Day

An interesting fact - humans have only been celebrating "New Year's Day" on January 1 since 1582. 

The earliest records we have of celebrating a new year occurred over 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. It was celebrated much later in the year than when we now celebrate - the first new moon after the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring, in March.

Later, the early Roman calendar was only about ten months - 304 days. Needless to say, this calendar didn't really line up with the stars, so good old Julius Caesar in 46 BCE decided to add Januarius and Februarius (January and February to us Americans) to the calendar year.

JC was also the first to decide on January 1st as the official New Year day in honor of the Roman god for which January is named - Janus. Janus was the god of beginnings with two faces - one looking forward to the future, one looking behind to the past. Seems like a perfect concept for a New Year. The Catholic church had different ideas, of course. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII made the official decision to put it back to January 1st. Before that, in ACE, New Year's was celebrated on a religious holiday (sometimes Christmas, sometimes the Feast of Annunciation).

As an additional fact, making New Year's resolutions also started with the Babylonians. In order to curry favor with the gods and start the year off on the right foot, they would resolve to pay off their debts and return used farm equipment.

Guess I'll be needing to return that tractor this year, huh?

Thanks to for the info!

No comments:

Post a Comment