Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Little History on Our New Year.

New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins. In many cultures, the event is celebrated in a variety of customs. Here in the gold old US of A, many of us go out to celebrate or stay at home and watch the apple fall from New York Times Square. The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January (New Year's Day), as was the case with both the old Roman calendar and the Julian calendar that succeeded it. The order of months was January to December in the Old Roman calendar during the reign of King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC, according to Plutarch and Macrobius, and has been in continuous use since that time. In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the United States, the first of January is a national holiday. During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, New Year's Day was variously moved, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, among them: 1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, and 25 December. These New Year's Day changes were generally reversed back to January 1 before or during the various local adoptions of the Gregorian calendar, beginning in 1582. The change from March 25 – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days – to January 1 took place in Scotland in 1600, before the ascension of James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603 or the formation of the United Kingdom in 1707. In England and Wales (and all British dominions, including the American colonies), 1751 began on March 25 and lasted 282 days, and 1752 began on January 1st.

A great many other calendars have been in use historically throughout the world, some of which count years numerically, and others that do not. The expansion of Western culture during recent centuries has seen such widespread official adoption of the Gregorian calendar that its recognition and that of January 1 as the New Year has become virtually global.

Regional or local use of other calendars persists, along with the cultural and religious practices that accompany them. In many places such as Israel, China, and India, New Year's is also celebrated at the times determined by these other calendars. In Latin America, the observation of traditions belonging to various native cultures continues according to their own calendars, despite the domination of subsequent cultures. The most common dates of modern New Year's celebrations are listed below, ordered and grouped by their appearance relative to the Gregorian calendar.

Contrary to common belief, the civil New Year of January 1 is not an Orthodox Christian religious holiday. The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar makes no provision for the observance of a New Year. January 1 is itself a religious holiday, but that is because it is the feast of the circumcision of Christ (8 days after his birth), and a commemoration of saints. While the liturgical calendar begins September 1, there is also no particular religious observance attached to the start of the new cycle. Orthodox nations may, however, make civil celebrations for the New Year. Those that adhere to the revised Julian calendar (which synchronizes dates with the Gregorian calendar), including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Syria, and Turkey, observe both the religious and civil holidays on January 1. In other nations and locations where Orthodox churches still adhere to the Julian calendar, including Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Ukraine, the civil new year is observed on January 1 of the civil calendar, while those same religious feasts occur on January 14 (which is actually the Julian, January 1 in accord with the liturgical calendar.)

Adapting January 1st as New Year’s Day took place in the following years.

It took quite a long time before 1 January again became the universal or standard start of the civil year. The years of adoption of 1 January as the new year are as follows: Grand Duchy of Lithuania 1362, Venice 1522, Sweden 1529, Holy Roman Empire & Germany 1544, Spain, Portugal, Poland 1556, Prussia, Denmark and Norway 1559, France 1564, Southern Netherlands 1576, Lorraine 1579, Dutch Republic 1583, Scotland 1600, Russia 1700, Tuscany 1721, Britain, Ireland and British Empire except Scotland 1752, Greece 1923, Turkey 1926, and Thailand 1941.

The Islamic New Year occurs on 1 Muharram. Since the Muslim calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days, the Muslim New Year occurs about eleven days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar, with two Muslim New Year’s falling in Gregorian year 2008.

The present-day Coptic Orthodox liturgical calendar reflects the same fundamental ancient structures, even though its early break from Eastern Orthodoxy in 452 shows evidence of a separate development. The Coptic calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar, which Emperor Augustus reformed in 25 BC to keep it forever in synch with the Julian calendar, but it is not identical to the Julian calendar. The Coptic liturgical New Year, at the feast of Neyrouz, synchronized with the Julian September 1 at a different point from the Gregorian calendar, has therefore a different degree of separation today. Between 1900 and 2099, Neyrouz occurs on 11 September (Gregorian), with the exception of the year before Gregorian leap years, when it occurs on 12 September. (The Coptic year 1731 began in September 2013.) The Ethiopian Orthodox New Year, Enkutatash, falls on the same date as Neyrouz. The Ethiopian calendar year 2006 began on 11 September 2013.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII while reforming the Julian calendar established January 1st as the beginning of a New Year of the Gregorian calendar.

And there you have it, a condensed history lesson our New Year.

So what do you do to celebrate the coming year? I know what I do. I sit back, watch a little tv while the clock counts down, have a toast with my hubby then hit the sac. I’ve grown too old to fight the crowds at the bars then try to drive home intoxicated. (grin). However you decide to celebrate the coming year, be safe, don’t make promises you can’t keep and most of all have fun!

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

V.S Nelson 


*Much of this was taken directly from Wikipedia

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