The History of the Celebration of the New Year

The History Of The Celebration of the New Year: by Calley Baxter


“The History Of The Celebration of the New Year”: by Calley Baxter

Calley Baxter, Junior Staff Writer

The Celebration of New Year’s occurs all over the world, and has been recognized for four millennia. However, the New Year  wasn’t always celebrated on January 1st, as it is today.   The festivities usually begin on December 31st, or New Year’s Eve, and carry on into January 1st, New Year’s Day.  According to online sources, the earliest celebration of the New Year dates back to 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. For this ancient civilization, the New Year started on the first full moon that followed the Vernal Equinox.  The Vernal Equinox is the day in March when the sunlight equals the amount of darkness. The Babylonian celebration included a giant religious festival, known as Atiku.   Atiku lasted 11 days, and a different ritual was performed each day.

In early times, civilizations throughout the years started developing calendars. Their calendars typically showed the first of the year as an agricultural or astronomical event. For example, The Chinese New Year began on the second new moon after the winter solstice. In Egypt, the first day of the New Year began with the annual flooding of the Nile River.

The early Roman calendar included 10 months and 304 days. The Roman New Year also began on the Vernal Equinox. Over the years, their calendar was no longer in sync with the sun. Julius Caesar decided to fix this problem by creating a new calendar with the brightest mathematicians and astronomers of his time. Caesar presented the calendar as the Julian calendar. Today, most countries use a more modern calendar that closely resembles this calendar. In this calendar Caesar issued January 1st as the first day of the New Year. The Romans’ celebration included sacrifices to the gods, exchanging gifts, and decorating.  They also attended parties.

In Europe, Christian leaders replaced the New Year with more religious holidays. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reinstated January 1st as New Year’s Day.

In most countries, the New Year’s celebration begins on December 31st. Many welcome the New Year with glorious feasts and snacks. In some countries, pigs are seen as progress as well as prosperity, and because of this, pork is often featured at these feasts. Other common traditions include watching fireworks and singing songs. In the United States, the most popular tradition is the dropping of a massive ball in New York City’s Times Square. The ball drops at exactly midnight and millions of Americans tune in to see the annual event.

The celebration of New Year’s has developed greatly over the past four millennia. Our traditions have evolved in many unique ways. I hope your New Year starts off on a positive note. Happy New Year!