A History of New Year Celebrations.
Did you know that New Year’s is the most widely celebrated public holiday in the world? Friends and family gather together everywhere on the night of December 31st to welcome the coming of the new year. Usually accompanied by fireworks and merry revelry, the tolling of the midnight hour seems almost magical, promising a bright and hopeful future while saying goodbye to the past. A History of New Year Celebrations.
But though it seems natural that January 1st is the first day of the new year in most world cultures, the celebration of New Year’s in January is a relatively new tradition. The first known record of a New Year celebration is found in 2000 B.C. Mesopotamia. Unlike the modern world, the ancient Mesopotamians did not celebrate New Year’s Day in January, but rather in mid-March! This tradition was then slightly adjusted by the early Romans who designated March 1 to be the beginning of the new year. It was not until 153 B.C. that the Romans decided to change the date of the new year from March 1 to January 1. This change happened because newly elected Roman officials began their term in January, and so January was meant to mark the beginning of each ‘civil’ year. About 100 years later, the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced a new solar calendar and decreed that January 1st was to be the definitive start of the new solar year. With the coming of the Middle Ages, January 1st lost its status as New Year’s day and was replaced by various dates in March and December, keeping with more Christian-themed events, such as the birth of Jesus Christ. Finally, in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted throughout Europe, and with it, January 1st was once again known as the beginning of the new year as we know it today. A History of New Year Celebrations.
Though some cultures celebrate their own new year on different dates (such as Songkran in April in Thailand or the Chinese New Year in February), the annual celebration of the world-wide New Year on January 1st is still widely upheld. There are many popular traditions that mark the coming of the new year – including fireworks, lanterns, parades and festivals, and of course, gift-giving. But regardless of the particular customs each country or region may have, there is no doubt that New Year’s Eve and Day are holiday celebrations like no other, uniting the people of Earth in a moment of expectation and excitement for what is to come! A History of New Year Celebrations.