About New Years Day
History of New Years Day
The celebration of the new year is one of the oldest holidays. Many believe it was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago it marked the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. How did New Years Day move from the summer to the winter? A good question, especially since the spring is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. Today New years Day is January 1st.
The month of January was named for their god, Janus, who is pictured with two heads. One looks forward, the other back, symbolizing a break between the old and new. The Greeks paraded a baby in a basket to represent the spirit of fertility. Christians adopted this symbol as the birth of the baby Jesus and continued what started as a pagan ritual. Today our New Year's symbols are a newborn baby starting the next year and an old man winding up the last year.
Not all countries celebrate New Year at the same time, nor in the same way. This is because people in different parts of the world use different calendars. Long ago, people divided time into days, months, and years. Some calendars are based on the movement of the moon, others are based on the position of the sun, while others are based on both the sun and the moon. All over the world, there are special beliefs about New Year.
The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when people reflect on the things done wrong in the past, with a promise to do better in the future. Religious services are held in synagogues, and an instrument called a Shofar, which is made from a ram's horn is played. Children are given new clothes, and New Year loaves are baked and fruit is eaten to remind people of harvest time.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated some time between January 17 and February 19, at the time of the new moon, and it is called Yuan Tan. It is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world, and street parades are an exciting part of their New Year. At the Festival of Lanterns thousands of lanterns are used to light the way for the New Year. The Chinese people believe that there are evil spirits around at New Year, so they let off firecrackers to frighten the spirits away. Sometimes they seal their windows and doors with paper to keep the evil spirits out.
The traditions of the season include the making of New Year's resolutions. Making a resolutions to change some part of one's life also dates back to the early Babylonians. Today most people promise to lose weight or quit smoking.
Our ancestors thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. It has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends.
New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. Some put coins in black-eyed peas and the person who gets the coin in their meal will be prosperous in the coming year.