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New Year's Day   -   TimeLine
Observed on January 1st with celebrations beginning on New Years Eve, December 31st.

New Years Day has been celebrated on different days in various cultures. Some cultures had used a different calendar placing the beginning of the new year in different seasons. Some calendars are based upon either the moon's position or the sun's position with others based upon both positions of the sun and moon. Cultures around the world and through history have various beliefs and traditions about the New Year. Today the New Year begins on January 1st.

New Year TimeLine   -   New Year Traditions

2000 BC New Moon New Years Day is one of the world's oldest holidays. The ancient Babylonians celebrated the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox 4000 years ago.
700 BC Jan. Numa Pontilius, the second king of Rome, added January and February to the calendar about 700 B.C. January was not widely used, March 1st continued to be celebrated as New Years Day.
153 BC Jan. In 153 B.C. the newly elected Roman consuls moved the new year from March to January because it was the beginning of the civil year. The people continued to celebrate on March 1st.
45 BC Jan. Roman Emperor, Julius Ceasar established January 1st as New Year's Day in 46 B.C. when constructing the Julian calendar that was based upon the solar cycle. Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates had two faces with one looking back and one looking forward. Ceasar used January for the first month, named after the god Janus as the door to the New Year. Ceasar celebrated each New Year by ordering the bloodshed of Jewish revolutionaries in Galilee. Roman pagans would celebrate with rituals of drunken orgies to dipict the chaos that existed before the gods ordered the cosmos.
50+-AD Jan. Christians began to incorporate pagan holidays puting a Christian slant onto them as a means of bringing in the heathen. 
325 CE Dec. Sylvester is the Israeli term for New Year's night celebrations. Sylvester was the Roman Pope who convinced Constantine to ban Jews from Jerusalem. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day attaching his name to New Year eve celebrations.
* The last Gladiator competition was held in Rome on January 1st, 404.
567 AD Mar. 25 The Council of Tours believing New Years celebrations to be pagan and un-Christian abolished January 1st as the beginning of the year.
* Muhammad sets out for Mecca on January 1st, 630 to capture it in a bloodbath.
700 AD Mar. 25 By the middle of the medival period most of Christian Europe had began to celebrate the new Year on March 25; Annunciation Day commemorating the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would bear a son and call him Jesus.
Jan. Russia adopts the Julian calendar in 990.
1066 Dec. Jan. William the Conqueror was coronated King of England on December 25th, 1066. William decreed the returning of the New Year to that of the Roman Pagans, January 1st. His motive was to align Jesus' Birthday with his coronation. William's change was eventually rejected with a returning of New Years Day to March 25th.
1502 * Rio de Janeiro is discovered by Portuguese navigators on January 1st, 1502.
1582 Oct. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII abandoned the Julian calendar to develope the Gregorian calandar. The change became effective the day after October 4th, 1582 jumping ten days to be October 15th, 1582. The New Year is again January 1st.  The Gregorian Calendar was adopted by catholic almost immediately.
1583 Jan. Holland and Flanders begin to use the Gregorian Calendar on January 1st, 1583.
1600 Jan. Scotland having adopted the Gregorian Galendar begins it's numbered year on January 1st rather than March 25th.
1622 Jan. The Papal Chancery adopts January 1st as the beginning of the year.
1673 * Regular postal service begins on January 1st between Boston and New York.
1700 Jan. The Byzantine is replaced with the Julian calendar in Russia in 1700.
1700 Jan. Germany adoped the Gregorian Calendar in 1700. Russia begins to use the Anno Domini era abandoning the Anno Mundi era of the Byzantine Empire.
1752 Jan. Great Britain adoped the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and began celebrating New Years Day on January 1st rather then March 25th.
1753 Jan. Sweden adoped the Gregorian Calendar in 1753.
1776 * General George Washington raises the Continental Union Flag on January 1st, 1776.
1788 * Pennsylvania Quakers emancipate their slaves on January 1st, 1788.
1797 * Albany becomes the capital of New York State on January 1st, 1797.
1808 * The importation of slaves is abolished by Congress on January 1st, 1808.
1818 * James Monroe held a reception at the official opening of the rebuilt Whitehouse on January 1, 1818.
1853 * A horse-drawn fire engine is placed into service on January 1st, 1853. It is the first of a practical design to be used in the U.S.
1861 * President Lincoln declares the abolishment of slavery in the Confederate states on Januar 1st, 1861.
1863 * Under the Homestead act the first homestead is claimed on January 1st, 1863 near Beatrice, Nebraska.
1863 * President Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation was delivered on January 1st, 1863.
1893 Jan. Japan adoped the Gregorian Calendar in 1893.
1901 * Australia declares independence on January 1st, 1901. Australia had been a part of the federation of United Kingdom colonies.
1902 *
In Pasadena, California the first Rose Bowl game is played on January 1st 1902. The game was played between the University of Michigan winning with 49 points and Sanford with zero points.
This was to become the beginning of football as an American New Years Day tradition.
1907 * President Theodore Roosevelt sets a record, shaking 8,513 hands in one day on January 1st, 1907.
1912 Jan. China adoped the Gregorian Calendar in 1912.
1918 Jan. Russia adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1918.
1918 Jan. January 1st, 1918 was the last day of the Julian calendar in Finland.
1923 * The U.S.S.R. (Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) was established on January 1st, 1923.
1924 Jan. Eastern Orthodox countries began to adopt the Gregorian Calendar in 1924.
1924 Jan. After having tried out its own calendar, Russia returned to the Gregorian Calendar in 1924.
1924 * The whitehouse had expected 7,500 gues for the 1924 New Year's celebration.
1927 Jan. The remaining Eastern Orthodox countries adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1927.
1927 Jan. The Gregorian calendar is adopted by Turkey with January 1st of the Gregorian calendar following December 18th, 1926 of the Julian calendar.
1935 * On January 1st, 1935 the first Sugar Bowl and first Orange Bowl are played.
1942 * The Rose Bowl is played in North Carolina for fear of a Japanese attack. Oregon wins with 20 points beating Duke with 16.
1942 * The Allies consisting of the U.S. and 25 other nations sign a joint declaration against the Axis powers on January 1st, 1942.
1954 * On January 1st, 1954 the first sport colorcasts are the Rose and Cotton Bowls.
1956 * On January 1st, 1956 Elvis Presley records 'Heartbreak Hotel' in Nashville, Tennesee for RCA.
1956 * Paniced stampedes at Yahiko Shrine, Yahiko, central Niigata, Japan kills over 124 people at a new year event in 1956.
1957 18 mo. The 18 month International Geophysical Year begins on January 1st, 1957 ending June 30th, 1958.
1960 * On January 1st, 1960, Johnny Cash performs the first of several free concerts within prison walls.
1970 Jan. The Western (RC) Church begins using a revised calendar on January 1st, 1970.
1977 * In 1977 at the Sugar Bowl Tony Dorsett ran a record 202 yards.
1992 * 1992 is the International Space year beginning on January 1st.
1994 * 1994 is the International Year of Family.
1995 * 1995 is the International Year of Tolerance
1999 * January 1st, 1999 begins the International Year of the Elderly.
© Copyright 2010 Roger W Hancock

New Year Traditions


A symbol to represent the breaking between the old and the new was the Roman god Janus who had two faces looking both back and forward. A Baby was paraded in a basket by the Greeks as the spirit of fertility. Christians converted the pagan use of the baby to depict the Baby Jesus and new life. Today a newborn baby depicts the new year and an old man to show the passing of the old.


Much of the world has a tradition to make a New Years Resolution. The individual resolves to change a part of their life. Losing weight, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, financial thriftiness or reduction of some other vice are the most popular resolutions people make today. The making of New Year resolutions date back to Babylonian times.


Going back hundreds of years, luck during the coming year was determined by what one ate on New Years Day. New Year Foods were thought to bring good luck for the coming year. Some cultures believed that foods in the shape of a ring is good luck symbolizing, "coming full circle." People would gather during the first few moments of the New Year in the company of family and friends. The person who finds a coin in their black-eyed peas would be prosperous during the New Year. Luck shows in other cultures as well; read on...

America Today

In America today, New Years Day is celebrated in various ways. Families gather or maintain a continued gathering begining with the Christmas celebration. New Year Eve Parties are held in homes among family and friends to hail in the New Year. Bars and lounges organize New Years Eve parties to capitalize on the New Years celebrations where many begin the first new year morning with a hang-over. The viewing of Football games are a tradition in many American families, or at least among the men. The largest public gatherings around the nation and locally are broadcast on television. Fireworks has spread from the Chinese communities to become an American New Year's tradition.


The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is a holy celebration. The Jewish people reflect on past wrongs determining to do better in the new year. An instrument made from a ram's horn, called a Shofar, is played at the Jewish religious services that are held in synagogues. New Year loaves of bread are baked and fruit is served to remind of harvest time. The children receive new clothes.


In China the New Year beginning falls between January 17th and February 19th, at the new moon. The Chinese New Year is called Yuan Tan and is celebrated by Chinese all over the world. Chinese communities whether in China or any other country hold lively celebrations. During the Festival of Lanterns, thousands of lanterns are lit to light the way into the New Year. Street parades with long dancing dragons is a long time Chinese tradition. Fire crackers crackle and pop to scare away the evil spirits that lurk around the time of the new year. In Chinese homes the evil spirits are kept away by sealing doors and windows with paper.


As a symbol of luck and happiness the Japanese decorate their homes with garland. The Japanese believe that loud laughter brings good luck.


Evil spirits are chased away in France by making noise on New Year's Eve night. The first person entering the home on New Year's Day determines the kind of year the household will have.


In Poland doughnuts and bread are baked in hopes prosperity is found during the New Year.


In the Philippines prosperity is yours if you wear polka-dot clothing or have your table filled with fruits of various colors, and decorated with round ornaments. Children jump 10 times at midnight on New Year's Eve in the belief they will grow tall.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico you scatter sugar through the house and yard to ensure good luck in the New Year. Buckets of water are tossed into the street to ward away negativity and welcoming the prosperity and success in the New Year.


© Copyright 2010 Roger W Hancock

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© Copyright 2005 Roger W Hancock 


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