For many all-around the world, January 1st offers opportunity to make a fresh start with a new year. But you probably didn’t know over the last 4000 years wasn’t always celebrated January 1st. The original New Year’s celebration in the massive Babylonian religion festival of AKITU was held every year around the spring equinox.
In 46 BC, Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar that was in sync to the sun instead of the moon, officially moving New Year’s celebration from March 1 to January 1st. In the Middle Ages, the Christian church did away with many of the ancient Roman festivals because of the pagan roots. As a result, New Year’s was celebrated on various dates throughout Europe. Finally in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII overhauled the calendar system again. In the Gagarin Calendar, which we still use today, we store January 1st as the New Year’s day. Even today some countries and cultures follow the lunar, not solar, calendar and hold their New Year’s celebrations at different times of the year.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first day of Muharram, the start of the Islamic Calendar year, are both celebrated in the fall and the Chinese New Year Day, which lasts for a whole month, begins in late January or early February. New Year’s traditions also vary from country to country. In Spain, people eat 12 grapes leading up to the seconds to midnight. Other cultures also eat special foods for the holidays.
Greeks eat green – shaped cakes with silver or gold coins baked inside. In China, a dumpling represents hope for Auspicious new year and in Japan, long buckwheat noodles symbolize long life. Since 1904, crowds have packed New York Times Square for one of the most famous traditions of all — the dropping of the ball. At midnight, hundreds of thousands of people gather in celebration with champagne, fireworks, resolution and fresh starts. New Year’s has always been many things for many people and it has a long and colorful history you probably didn’t know.