why do we celebrate the new year
The date of a new year isnât precisely fixed by any natural or seasonal marker. Instead, our celebration of New Yearâs Day on January 1 is a civil event. Thatâs despite the fact that, for us in the Northern Hemisphere where the amount of daylight has ebbed to its lowest point and the days are getting longer again, thereâs a feeling of rebirth in the air. Our modern celebration of New Yearâs Day stems from an ancient Roman custom, the feast of the Roman god Janus â god of doorways and beginnings. The name for the month of January also comes from Janus, who was depicted as having two faces. One face of Janus looked back into the past, and the other peered forward to the future. To celebrate the new year, the Romans made promises to Janus. From this ancient practice comes our tradition of making New Yearâs Day resolutions. January 1 hasnât been New Yearâs Day throughout history, though. In the past, some New Yearâs celebrations took place at an equinox, a day when the sun is above Earthâs equator, and night and day are equal in length.
ÂIn many cultures, the March or
marks a time of transition and new beginnings, and so cultural celebrations of a new year were natural for that equinox. The September or also had its proponents for the beginning of a new year. For example, the â implemented during the French Revolution and used for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805 â started its year at the September equinox. The Greeks celebrated the new year on the, the shortest day of the year. Today, although many do celebrate New Yearâs Day on January 1, some cultures and religions do not. Jews use a lunar calendar and celebrate the New Year on Rosh Hashana, the first day of the month of Tishri, which is the first month of their calendar. This date usually occurs in September. Most are also familiar with the, celebrated for weeks in January or early February. In 2018, the Chinese New Year of the Dog begins on February 16. By the way, in addition to the longer days here in the Northern Hemisphere, thereâs another astronomical occurrence around January 1 each year thatâs also related to Earthâs year, as defined by our orbit around the sun.
That is, Earthâs perihelion â or closest point to the sun â happens every year in early January. In 2018,. Bottom line:Â The reasonÂ to celebrate New Yearâs Day on January 1 is historical, not astronomical. The New Year was celebrated according to astronomical events â such as equinoxes and solstices â eons ago. Our modern New Yearâs celebration stems from the ancient, two-faced, Roman god Janus,Â after whom the month of January is also named. One face of Janus looked back into the past, and the other peered forward to the future. The date of New Yearâs Day seems so fundamental that itâs almost as though nature ordained it. But New Yearâs Day is a civil event. Its date isnât precisely fixed by any natural seasonal marker. Our modern celebration of New Yearâs Day stems from an ancient Roman custom, the feast of the Roman god Janus â god of doorways and beginnings.
The name for the month of January also comes from Janus, who was depicted as having two faces. One face of Janus looked back into the past, and the other peered forward to the future. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, early January is a logical time for new beginnings. At the in the Northern Hemisphere, we had the shortest day of the year. By early January, our days are obviously lengthening again. This return of longer hours of daylight had a profound effect on cultures that were tied to agricultural cycles. It has an emotional effect on people even in cities today. The early calendar-makers didnât know it, but today we know there is another bit of astronomical logic behind beginning the year on January 1. Earth is always closest to the sun in its yearly orbit around this time. This event is called Earthâs. People didnât always celebrate the new year on January 1. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, circa 2000 B. C. That celebration â and many other ancient celebrations of the new year following it â were celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, around March 20.
Meanwhile, the ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the autumnal equinox around September 20. And the ancient Greeks celebrated on the winter solstice, around December 20. By the Middle Ages, though, in many places the new year began in March. Around the 16th century, a movement developed to restore January 1 as New Yearâs Day. In the New Style or Gregorian calendar, the New Year begins on the first of January. Bottom line: Thereâs no astronomical reason to celebrate New Yearâs Day on January 1. Instead, our modern New Yearâs celebration stems from the ancient, two-faced, Roman god Janus â for whom the month of January is also named. One face of Janus looked back into the past, and the other peered forward to the future.
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