Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Traditions

Happy New Year! This greeting and the holiday have been celebrated since Babylon. This is about 4000 years ago. However, the New Year didn’t fall on January 1st. The Babylonian New Year began on the day of the first New Moon (crescent) and after the first day of spring or the Vernal Equinox. The New Year’s celebration lasted for eleven days.

Spring was considered the season of rebirth and a time to plant new crops. In the early Roman calendar, March 1st was the New Year. The Roman calendar only has ten months, beginning with March. If you think about it the months reflect the position they once held in the Roman calendar. Septem is Lantin for seven. octo is eight, novem is nine, and decem is ten.

The first time New Year was celebrated on January 1st was in 153 B.C. in Rome. It wasn’t until 700 B.C. that the month January existed. The Roman consul started their one-year tenure on January 1st. This was considered the beginning of the civil year and the New Year was celebrated also on this day. However, there were still some who celebrated the New Year on March 1st.

Now when Julius Caesar introduced the new solar-based calendar, the New Year occurred on January 1st. In medieval Europe the New Year celebrations were considered pagan and were abolished. Through the medieval Christian Europe, the beginning of a new year varied. Some observed on Dec. 25th to coincide with the celebration of Jesus’ birth, while others observed the day as March 1st or March 25 at the Feast of Annunciation and Easter. It wasn’t until the Gregorian calendar (1582) that January 1st again became the New Year’s Day. Catholics adopted the Gregorian calendar but the Protestant countries didn’t accept the Gregorian calendar for some time. The British and the American colonies still celebrated New Year’s Day in March and didn’t adopt the new calendar until 1752.

New Year Traditions:
Have you ever wondered why people make New Year’s resolutions? This tradition dates back to the Babylonians. One the most popular Babylonian resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

Did you know that the Tournament of Roses dates back to 1886? The Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers in celebration of California’s successful orange crop. In 1902, the Rose Bowl football game played for the first time, but in 1903, football was replaced with a Roman chariot races. It wasn’t until 1916, that football was again part of the celebration.

The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year started in Greece, 600 BC. They celebrated their god of wine. Dionysus paraded a baby in a basket to represent the annual rebirth of the god as the spirit of fertility.

New Year's Luck
It was believed what you did the first few minutes of the new year would determine what luck you would have all year. This is how the tradition of celebrating the new year with friends and family came to be. It was also once believed the first visitor of the new year could bring good or bad luck. It was very lucky if the visitor was a tall dark-haired man. Red hair was considered unlucky. Food was considered lucky, too. Anything in a shape of a ring was good luck for it symbolized coming full circle. Some other foods considered good luck are black-eyed peas and legumes. Hog and cabbage represented prosperity.

Auld Lang Syne was partially written by Robert Burns in 1700’s. There were variations of the song that inspired Burns to write the song we sing today. It wasn’t published until 1796 after Robert Burn’s death. The Scottish tune translates to old long ago.


Lisa Griffin said... Best Blogger Tips

Very interesting info on how and why New Years celebrations came about. I enjoyed the post, Karen. :)

Happy New Year to you!!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Lisa for stopping by.

Let's hope this year is a good one.