New Year's Day

For other uses, see New Year's Day (disambiguation). For the day itself, unrelated to celebration of the New Year, see January 1.
"Happy new year" redirects here. For other uses, see Happy New Year (disambiguation).
New Year's Day
Mexico City New Years 2013! (8333128248).jpg
Fireworks in Mexico City at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 2013
Observed by Users of the Gregorian calendar
Significance The first day of the Gregorian year
Celebrations Making New Year's resolutions, church services, parades, sporting events, fireworks [1]
Date January 1
Next time January 1, 2018 (2018-01-01)
Frequency Annual
Related to New Year's Eve, Christmastide

New Year's Day, also called simply New Year's or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named. As a date in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, New Year's Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, which is still observed as such in the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church. [2] [3] In present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar, New Year's Day is probably the most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. Other global New Years' Day traditions include making New Year's resolutions and calling one's friends and family. [1]

History

In Christendom, under which the Gregorian Calendar developed, New Year's Day traditionally marks the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, which is still observed as such by the Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church.

Mesopotamia (Iraq) instituted the concept of celebrating the new year in 2000 BC, celebrated new year around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. [4] [5] The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten.")

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1 was in Rome in 153 BC (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 BC, when the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls (the highest officials in the Roman republic) began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

In 46 BC Julius Caesar extended the year to 445 days ( annus confusionis). The normal number of 355 days had already been increased by the addition of the ordinary 23 days, inserted after February 23. As many as 67 days, divided into two menses intercalares, were now interposed between November and December. This year thus consisted of 15 months. After this “year of confusion,” the new calendar really started. Since 153 BC, January 1 was the day new consuls in Rome took office and Romans had commonly used the name of the two consuls to identify a specific year in question. Thus, by officially making January 1 start the New Year, it simply lined up with the consular year. One proposed reason for this switch is that January is thought by most to have been named after the god of transitions and beginnings, Janus, during the reign of the second King of Rome, Numa Pompilius, who lived from 753–673 BC. Thus, it was naturally enough for the Romans to eventually decide to make the switch. However, whether this is the reason or not is very much up for debate. There is no consensus on the question. [6] After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC as the Julian Calendar and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on 1 January 42 BC, [7] in honor of his life and his institution of the new rationalized calendar. [8] Dates in March, coinciding with the March Equinox, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Jesus Christ, or other Christian feasts were used throughout the Middle Ages as the first day of the new year, although their calendars nonetheless often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.[ citation needed]

In 567 AD the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts on the first day of the new year. This custom was deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemish and Dutch: "(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." [9] However, on the date that European Christians celebrated the New Year, they exchanged Christmas presents because New Years' Day fell within the twelve days of the Christmas season in the Western Christian liturgical calendar; [10] the custom of exchanging Christmas gifts in a Christian context is traced back to the Biblical Magi who gave gifts to the Child Jesus. [11] [12]

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as New Year's Day. As Easter had drifted backward since the First Council of Nicaea endorsed the computation of Easter 13 centuries back, when the new calendar was put in use, the error accumulated was corrected by a deletion of 10 days. The Julian calendar day Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar, Friday, 15 October 1582 (the cycle of weekdays was not affected), so January 1 becomes 10 days after the Winter Solstice. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.

Most nations of Western Europe officially adopted 1 January as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian Calendar. In Tudor England, New Years Day, along with Christmas Day and Twelfth Night, was celebrated as one of three main festivities among the twelve days of Christmastide. [13] There, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the first day of the new year was the Western Christian Feast of the Annunciation, on 25 March, also called " Lady Day". Dates predicated on the year beginning on 25 March became known as Annunciation Style dates, while dates of the Gregorian Calendar commencing on 1 January were distinguished as Circumcision Style dates, [14] because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, the observed memorial of the eighth day of Jesus Christ's life after his birth, counted from the latter's observation on Christmas, 25 December. Pope Gregory christened 1 January as the beginning of the new year according to his reform of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. [15]