Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1st was not always the New year....



Ahh!! . . . here we are. January 1st, 2012…... A brand new month……. A brand new year.


January, the month of new beginnings and  is a time to cherish memories. It is the month in which winter weaves her magically festive spell about us with it's cool and crisp days.
 This is the month where the temperatures plummet and we  gladly  look forward to log bonfires and with thick wisps of fog descending  around us . And then the  New Year descends on us.

Happy New Year! That is the greeting that we will often hear for the first few weeks of 2012. But do you know that January 1st was not always celebrated as New Year's Day?

In the earliest times the celebration of the New Year was one of the oldest recorded holidays.

 It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago.


Babylon

In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon …..That is the first visible crescent after the Vernal Equinox; this was the first day of spring. The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year, after all, it is the season of rebirth, a season of regeneration you could say. It was the time for planting of new crops and of blossoming.

Vernal Equinox

The present day January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical or agricultural connotation. It is purely capricious.

The Babylonian New Year celebration was a real carnival true sense. They were a pageant of festivities that lasted for eleven days; each day had its own specific and definitive style and reason of celebration. In comparison New Year's Eve of present day festivities pale into insignificance.






Babylon Feast celebrations


Now if we looked at the Romans, they continued to observe the New Year in March, but their calendar was frequently messed about by the various Roman Emperors, the result was that the calendar soon became out of sync with the solar shifts. The early Roman calendar chose March 1 as the New Year and their calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. ….the New Year began with the month of March…Look carefully and will notice it in the names of the designated months septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten."

Now let us see as to when January joins the Calendar…


In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C. The second king of Rome,Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.

The first time the New Year was declared to be on January 1st by the Roman Senate was in Rome in 153 B.C.  The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil administration year. It was the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure.

Julian Calendar

But tampering continued with Julius Caesar as well, in 46 BC, he established what has come to be known as the Julian calendar. He introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was based on the lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. Now January 1 was back again as the New Year, but in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

After this aberration the year was 365 days long, with an additional day added every four years.


In the medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the New Year were considered pagan and were considered not Christian, and they abolished January 1st 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.

However, the Julian calendar was not perfect, and was, in turn, replaced by the Gregorian calendar in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. This calendar was accepted throughout Europe and eventually the New World.
Pope Gregory XI11


Thus in1582 Gregorian calendar restored January 1 as  the New Years day.
While most Catholic countries accepted the Gregorian calendar just about straight away, The Protestant countries took time.

The British, for example, did not adopt this calendar until 1752.


From this you can see that The NEW YEAR has had quite a colourful travel through history.





HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my friends

2 comments:

  1. The article suggests the tantalizing prospect of a New Year's day in March. Happily for us Indians, most regional new years are celebrated during the spring, though by different names: baisakhi, bihu etc.
    Highly informative & uplifting.

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  2. Spring is the season of re growth....germination.... Harvesting etc...

    Such had been the tradition from pagan laws as well

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