For at least four centuries, civilizations worldwide have commemorated the beginning of each new year. Most New Year’s celebrations now begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the Gregorian calendar’s final day, and extend until the wee morning of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Attending parties, enjoying special New Year’s dishes, making New Year’s goals, and viewing fireworks displays are all popular customs.
The first known celebrations in honor of the start of a new year extend back four thousand years ago to ancient Babylon. After the vernal equinox, the first new moon—a day in early March with an equal quantity of sunshine and darkness—marked the beginning of a new year for the Babylonians.
What does New Year’s Day entail?
According to the current Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is a worldwide celebration on January 1, the first day of year. January 1 is also New Year’s Day on the Julian calendar, although it is not the same as the Gregorian calendar. While most solar calendars (such as the Gregorian and Julian) start the year at or around the northern winter solstice, civilizations that use a lunisolar or lunar calendar celebrate New Year’s Day at less defined times relative to the solar year (such as the Chinese New Year & the Islamic New Year).
The day was devoted to Janus, the deity of doorways and beginnings, after whom January was also called, in pre-Christian Rome, under the Julian calendar. The new year was celebrated on December 25, March 1, March 25, and the movable feast of Easter from Roman times till the middle of the 18th century in various phases and regions of Christian Europe.
When is New Year’s Day?
January 1 is designated as New Year’s Day. The early Roman calendar had ten months and 304 days, for each new year starting at the spring equinox, and was said to have been devised by Romulus, Rome’s founder, in the ninth century B.C. A later ruler, Numa Pompilius, added the months of Januarius & Februarius.
How is New Year’s Day Celebrated?
New Year’s celebrations in many countries begin on December 31—New Year’s Eve—and go until the wee morning of January 1. Revelers frequently eat meals and snacks that are considered to bring them good fortune in the new year. Before midnight, individuals in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries bolt down a dozen grapes, signifying their aspirations for the months ahead. Traditional New Year’s dinners in many regions of the world include legumes, which are considered to mimic coins and promise future financial prosperity; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the south. Pork is served on New Year’s Eve tables in Cuba, Vienna, Hungary, Portugal, and other nations because pigs symbolize growth and wealth in various civilizations. In the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece, and others, ring-shaped cakes & pastries, a sign the year has gone full round, finish off the feast. Meanwhile, on New Year’s Eve in Scandinavian countries, spice cake with an almond concealed within is served; it is thought that whoever discovers the nut will have good luck for the next 12 months.
Fireworks, parades, plus reflections on the previous year are all common New Year’s traditions, as is looking forward to a New Year full of possibilities. Many people spend the New Year with their loved ones, following customs that are believed to bring them luck and all the best in the next year.