why do we celebrate the new year
Good Question: Why do we celebrate the New Year? 1:51 pm, January 6, 2018
2:09 pm, January 6, 2018 The gifts have been exchanged, the treats are all gone, some may be a little fuller in the midsection, and the excitement of the holidays has worn off. There is always a bit of a letdown associated with the end of the holiday season. When you finish reading this article, you may feel confusion as well. I thought it would be fun to look into the history of New Year s Day for this week s Good Question. What I know now that I did not know before is that somebody really goofed when they assigned this day to the calendar. , the Roman God of doors and gates (Why they needed a God for that is beyond me). Janus had two facesБone facing forward and one facing backward. Julius Caesar, who was the ruler at the time, felt that the start of a new year was a БdoorБ to the future. So naturally, he named a new month БJanuaryБ after Janus. That is when January 1 was officially declared as БNew YearБs Day. Б So far so good, right? Well, hereБs where it gets a little weird. To celebrate this occasion, Caesar ordered a violent execution of Jewish forces. New YearБs day celebrations continued through the years with what evolved into heavily sexualized parties. these parties were symbolic of the chaotic world that existed before the creation of the cosmos. (Don t ask me, I m only the messenger). This continued for about 500 years until someone had the idea that celebrations of this sort were morally off base.
So they were dropped. The date of the New Year was eventually changed. Whether this was an effort to disassociate this day with previous БcelebrationsБ or just start something new is anyoneБs guess. For a while, December 25th was the new БNew Year. Б Then it was March 1 and later March 25 in conjunction with the Vernal Equinox or what we now know as Easter. Around 1725 or so it was changed back to January 1. As if that wasnБt confusing enough, the length of the calendar year also went through some changes during this time. In the days before Caesar, it was a ten-month calendar year but in 46 B. C. that all changed. We still have a vestige of the old March-start calendars hidden with us in plain sight, Time. The months of September through December are currently months nine through twelve even thought the root word of September is БSeptemБ which is latin for Бseven, not nine. БOctoБ means eight, and so on. The occasion is further complicated when you add the tradition of making new year s resolutions. But I m afraid this point will have to be a discussion for another time. For now, weБll wrap this up by saying БHappy New Year. UPDATE: For, we asked if Santa Claus really does exist. I wrote him a letter and sent it off to see if anything would happen. Something did happen. For anyone who is interested in hearing about my experience, I wrote all about it addressed to my daughter.
If you want to submit a Good Question, email. Use Good Question in the subject line. Some things are taken to be so self-evident that they are beyond question: the sun rises in the east; the Cubs will choke in the post-season; and New Year s Day always falls on January 1. Except it hasn t always. For while it may seem obvious that the first day of January marks the beginning of the year it s only been that way for a few centuries. That s because we ve been changing and obstinately refusing to change the way we draw up the year ever since Julius Caesar got the calendar wars going. The story of the calendar used in the U. S. and across the Western world begins in 45 B. C. E. , when Caesar ordered up a 12-month calendar starting on January 1 based on one complete rotation around the sun, with three cycles of 365 days followed by one leap year of 366 days to compensate for small discrepancies in the man-made calendar and the way the earth actually moves around the sun. The Julian Calendar was in wide use until the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century C. E. , after which the European calendar fell into a bit of disarray. Dates were shifted to coincide with Christian holidays. In some places the year was moved back to start at Christmas, in others moved up to start in March to coincide with the Incarnation of Jesus. (We still have a vestige of the old March-start calendars hidden with us in plain sight: September, the ninth month of our year, is Latin for seventh month; October for eight month; November for ninth, December for tenth. ) In the Middle Ages smart people sorted out that the Julian leap year was poorly calibrated such that it actually added a day every 128 years, and by the 16th century things were completely out of whack.
The equinoxes were coming too early and some holidays, like Easter, fell in the wrong season. To fix things Vatican created a new calendar, the Gregorian Calendar, which in 1582 officially moved the starting day back to January 1 and reconfigured things in general to impose a sense of order. However, by the late 16th century England did not recognize the authority of the Pope or of his newfangled calendar. Both it and its nascent colonies kept to the old calendar, despite the confusion though many people used both, for the sake of being understood. From January to March, for example, some would to attempt to clear things up. At last in 1752, acknowledging that its calendar was now a full 11 days out of sync with the rest of Europe, England finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar, starting the year on January 1 and chopping eleven days from September. Her colonies including the New World soon to become the United States followed suit. And thus it is that in frigid January rather than milder March we gather to sing old songs, kiss our sweethearts and raise a glass to the new year.
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