Why Do We Celebrate New Year on January 1?

Elmira | 11 - 12 - 2020

According to the modern Gregorian and Julian calendar, January 1st is the first day of the year, therefore we observe January first as New Year.

 The new year is the time when we think it’s time to start something new, make resolutions, and get ready for another year. Did you know? Why do people celebrate the New Year and why is January 1 the New Year? Read further to uncover the history of the calendar and its adoption across the world.

 History of Calendar

When Was the Gregorian Calendar Introduced?
  • A. 1583
  • B. 1582
  • C. 1590
  • D. 1555

Wondering, how did the New Year start? We should be thankful for the Roman King Numa Pompilius for revising the Roman Republican calendar in which March was replaced by January as the first month. It was an excellent decision because January was named after Janus who is the Roman god of all beginnings and March represented Mars who is a god of war. At the same time, in Roman, January 1 was not observed as New Year until 153 BCE.

 During 4 BCE, Julius Caesar modified the calendar and kept January 1 as the opening date. Over time, the Roman Empire expanded. Consequently, the use of the Julian calendar also increased. In the 5th century CE, after the fall of Rome, several Christian countries modified the calendar according to their religion. March 25 was observed as the Feast of the Annunciation and December 25 as Christmas became common New Year’s Days.

 Later, the Julian calendar required a few modifications because of the miscalculation related to leap years. Over several centuries, these increasing blenders caused a lot of problems, and many events took place in the wrong season. They also faced a problem in deciding the date of Easter.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII invented a revised calendar. To solve the leap year problem, he decided to include January 1 as the first day of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar. Meanwhile, Italy, France, and Spain were countries that accepted the new calendar instantly. Protestant and Orthodox nations initially rejected the new calendar, but gradually accepted it. Great Britain and its American colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. They used to celebrate New Year on March 25.

With time, non-Christian countries started to follow the Gregorian calendar. In 1912, China continued to celebrate New Year as per a lunar calendar. The fact is several nations adopted the Gregorian calendar and also followed their traditional or religious calendars. Some countries never adopted it and start the year with their own New Year dates. Ethiopia still celebrates its New Year that is known as Enkutatash in September.


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