A Surprising Little History of New Year Celebrations
Celebrating New Year’s may seem old hat to you and me, but it has been around for a while. The first historical recordings of any type of new year celebration come from approximately 2000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia. Back then it was celebrated in the middle of March around of the times of the vernal equinox. This takes place at exactly 12:30 a.m. on March 20, 2018, when the Sun crosses directly over the Earth’s equator. The Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.
The first Roman Calendars had March 1st as the first day of the new year. Back then, there were just 10 months in the calendar starting with March. You can see evidence of March as the first month through the names of the months. September through December, our 9th to 12th months, originally was the 7th through 10th months. Septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”
Around 700 B.C., the 2nd king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, added January and February. It’s good to be king! However, the first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar brought in a calendar that was solar-based. It was considered cosmic improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The new “Julian” calendar changed the new year to start on January 1.
In 1582, the so-called Gregorian calendar established January 1st as New Year’s Day. Even though most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, Protestant countries took longer. For example, the British did not embrace the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.
Knowledge is power, and with this knowledge you could be a big hit playing those board games this Holiday Season. Other than that, I just thought it was cool.
Have a happy and safe New Year’s celebration and see you in 2018!