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New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome. With most countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, New Year's Day is the closest thing to being the world's only truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year. New Year's Day is a postal holiday in the United States.[1]

HistoryEdit

The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st January 42 BC [2] in honor of his life and his institution of the new rationalized calendar.[3] The month originally owes its name to the deity Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. This suggests that New Year's celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter.[4] Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates, were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "(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]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the {{WPlink|Feast of the Circumcision}, considered to be the eighth day of Christ's life, counting from December 25 when his birth is celebrated. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calendar.

New Year's Days in other calendarsEdit

In cultures which traditionally or currently use calendars other than the Gregorian, New Year's Day is often also an important celebration. Some countries concurrently use the Gregorian and another calendar. New Year's Day in the alternative calendar attracts alternative celebrations of that new year:

  • Chinese New Year is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is the first day of the lunar calendar and is corrected for the solar every three years. The holiday normally falls between January 20 and February 20. The holiday is celebrated with food, families, lucky money (usually in a red envelope), and many other red things for good luck. Lion and dragon dances, drums, fireworks, firecrackers, and other types of entertainment fill the streets on this day.
  • Sinhalese New Year is celebrated in Sri Lankan culture predominantly by the Sri Lankan Sinhalese, while the Tamil New Year is celebrated alongside it by Sri Lankan Tamils. The Sinhalese New Year (aluth avurudda), marks the end of harvest season, by the month of Bak (April) between April 13th and 14th. There is an astrologically-generated time gap between the passing year and the New Year, which is based on the passing of the sun from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) in the celestial sphere. The astrological time difference between the New Year and the passing year (nonagathe) is celebrated with several Buddhist rituals and customs that are to be concentrated on, which are exclusive of all types of 'work'. After Buddhist rituals and traditions are attended to, Sinhala and Tamil New Year-based social gatherings and festive parties with the aid of firecrackers, and fireworks would be organized. The exchange of gifts, cleanliness, the lighting of the oil lamp, making kiribath (Milk rice), and even the Asian Koel are significant aspects of the Sinhalese New Year.
  • Tamil New Year (Puthandu) is celebrated on April 13th or 14th. Traditionally, it is celebrated as Chiththirai Thirunaal in parts of Tamilnadu to mark the event of the Sun entering Aries. Panchangam (almanac), is read in temples to mark the start of the Year.
  • Malayalam New Year (Puthuvarsham) is celebrated on the 1st day of the month of Chingam, which is the first month on the Malayalam Calendar. It generally falls around mid-August. Unlike most other calendar systems in India, the New Year's Day on the Malayalam Calendar is not based on any astronomical event. It is just the first day of the first of the twelve months on the Malayalam Calendar. The Malayalam Calendar (called Kollavarsham) originated in 825 CE, based on general agreement among scholars, with the re-opening of the city of Kollam (on Malabar Coast), which had been destroyed by a natural disaster.
  • Telugu New Year (Ugadi), Kannada New Year (Yugadi) is celebrated in March (generally), April (occasionally). Traditionally, it is celebrated as Chaitram Chaitra Shuddha Padyami in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to mark the event of New Year's Day for the people of the Deccan region of India. It falls on a different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March–April) and Ugadi/Yugadi marks the first day of the new year. Chaitra is the first month in Panchanga which is the Indian calendar. Panchangam (almanac), is read in temples to mark the start of the Year.
  • Thai New Year is celebrated on April 13th or 14th, and is called Songkran in the local language. People usually come out to splash water on one another. The throwing of water originated as a blessing. By capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
  • Hindu New Year falls at the time and date the Sun enters Aries on the Hindu calendar. This is normally on April 14th or 15th, depending on the leap year. The new year is celebrated by paying respect to elders in the family and by seeking their blessings. They also exchange tokens of good wishes for a healthy and prosperous year ahead.
  • Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3,000 years by the related cultural continent. The holiday is also celebrated and observed by many parts of Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China, Crimea and some groups in the Balkans. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in the Indian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.
  • Islamic: The Hijri New Year, also known as Islamic new year (Arabic: رأس السنة الهجرية‎ Ras as-Sanah al-Hijriyah) is the day that marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year. New Year moves from year to year because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar.The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.
  • Israel is one country that uses the Gregorian calendar but does not formally celebrate the New Year's holiday — mainly due to objections by religious parties on the holiday's non-Jewish origins. However, there are Israeli Jews who partake in some sort of celebration. The date of the Jewish new year is celebrated on Rosh Hashanah no matter where the location.
  • Korean New Year, called Seolnal, is the first day of the lunar calendar. Koreans also celebrate solar New Year's Day on January 1 each year, following the Gregorian Calendar. People get a day off that day while they have a minimum of three days off on Lunar New Year. People celebrate New Year's Day by preparing food for the ancestors' spirits, visiting ancestors' graves, then playing Korean games such as Yutnol'i {say: yun-no-ree} with families. Young children give respect to their parents, grandparents, relatives, and other elders by bowing down in a traditional way and are given good wishes and some money by the elders. Families enjoy the new years also by counting down until 12:00 a.m., which would be New Year's Day.
  • Ethiopian New Year called Enqutatash. It is celebrated on September 11 or September 12 based on the leap year. Ethiopia uses its own ancient calendar. However some say it has connection with Julian calendar. The new year is the end of the summer season and where you see natural flowers every where in the country.

Traditional and modern celebrations and customsEdit

New Year's EveEdit

(A more complete article is at New Year's Eve.)

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Sydney contributes to some of the major New Year celebrations each year.

January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including on radio, television and in newspapers, which starts in early December in countries around the world. Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. In some cases publications may set their entire year work alight in hope that the smoke emitted from the flame brings new life to the company. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has also become an occasion to celebrate the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are fireworks at midnight at the moment the new year arrives; watchnight services are also still observed by many.[5]

Regional celebrationsEdit

  • In European countries, the New Year is greeted with private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.

National celebrationsEdit

  • In the United Kingdom there are many celebrations across the towns and cities, particularly in Scotland.
  • In Greece and Cyprus, families and relatives switch off the lights at midnight, then celebrate by cutting the "vassilopita" (Basil's pie) which usually contains one coin or equivalent. Whoever wins expects luck for the whole year. After the pie, a traditional game of cards called "triantaena" (31) follows.
  • In Nassau, Bahamas, the Junkanoo parade takes place.
  • In the Philippines, fireworks, booming sound system as well as make a lot of noise with the belief that the noises would scare evil spirits away, preventing them from bringing bad luck to the coming new year. The tables are laden with food for the Media Noche or midnight meal, and there is a basket of 12 different round fruits to symbolize prosperity in each of the coming year's 12 months. Public new year parties like those in New York and Sydney are also available to the people and very well attended.
  • In Russia and the other 14 former republics of the Soviet Union, the celebration of Novi God is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with lavish food and gifts. In Moscow, the president of Russia counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is traditionally called in Russia. The Kremlin's landmark Spassky Clock Tower chimes in the new year and then the anthem starts. It is customary to make a wish while the Clock chimes. Old New Year is celebrated on January 14 (equivalent to January 1 in the "old style" Julian calendar. It isn't the official holiday, but only after Old New Year do people take decorations and Christmas trees (firs) away.
  • In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
  • In the United States, it is traditional to spend this occasion together with loved ones. A toast is made to the new year, with kisses, fireworks and parties among the customs. It is popular to make a New Year's resolution, although that is optional. In the country's most famous New Year celebration in New York City, the 11,875-pound (5,386-kg), 12-foot-diameter (3.7-m) Times Square Ball located high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59 p.m., with a countdown from :60 seconds until :01, when it reaches the bottom of its tower. The arrival of the new year is announced at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, music and a live celebration that is broadcast worldwide.
  • In France,[6] people concern much attention to the weather that day. They regard the weather as the prediction of that year: wind blowing east, fruit will yield; wind blowing west, fish and livestock will be bumper; wind blowing south, there will be good weather all year round and wind blowing north, there will be crop failure. People would like to toast for the new year and drink till January 3. They think that they can't gain a beautiful year if they don't drink up all the wine left last year.

New Year's DayEdit

The celebrations held world-wide on January 1 as part of New Year's Day commonly include the following:

  • Parades
  • American football: In the United States, January 1 is the traditional date for many post-season college football bowl games, which are usually accompanied by parades and other activities to celebrate the events.
  • Football: In Europe, Association Football, where a Full Fixture programme is usually played throughout the Premier League and the rest of the League/Non League system in England.
  • Ice hockey, most famously the Winter Classic in North America, a National Hockey League game that is played outdoors.
  • Concerts
  • Entertainment, usually enjoyed from the comfort of home.
  • Family time
  • Traditional meals
  • Church services
  • An annual dip in ice-cold water by hearty individuals, most famously by members of the Polar Bear Club.
  • Fireworks

New Year's babiesEdit

In Brittany, a common image used is that of an incarnation of Father Time (or the "Old Year") wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it passing on his duties to the Baby New Year (or the "New Year"), an infant wearing a sash with the new year printed on it.

In modern time and world-wide, the association of parenthood is with a baby's arrival, with New Year's Eve a father and mother together presenting their newborn child as the new year arrives and is celebrated.

People born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center[7] in the U.S., give out prizes to the first baby born in that hospital in the new year. These prizes are often donated by local businesses. Prizes may include various baby related items such as baby formula, baby blankets, diapers, and gift certificates to stores which specialize in baby related merchandise.

Other celebrations on January 1Edit

Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1). The Roman Catholic Church celebrates on this day the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is also a Holy Day of Obligation.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. United States Postal Service Website. About. [1]
  2. Warrior, Valerie M. (2006). Roman Religion. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0521825113
  3. Courtney, G. Et tu Judas, then fall Jesus (iUniverse, Inc 1992), p. 50.
  4. Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967), p. 97-8.
  5. "Watch Night services provide spiritual way to bring in New Year". The United Methodist Church. http://www.interpretermagazine.org/interior.asp?ptid=43&mid=11612. Retrieved 28 December 2011. "The service is loosely constructed with singing, spontaneous prayers and testimonials, and readings, including the Covenant Renewal service from The United Methodist Book of Worship (pp. 288-294)." 
  6. 《世界节》岳峰主编
  7. Dyersburg State Gazette (2008-12-31). "DRMC rounds up prizes for New Year's baby, Life Choices". Stategazette.com. http://www.stategazette.com/story/1489857.html. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 

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