Origin and History of New Year

Origin Of New Year

The origin and history of New Year and its celebrations date back to the Babylonian civilisation, around 4000 BC. The observance of the New Year coincided with the onset of spring, signifying rebirth and regeneration.

The Romans named January after Janus, a two faced god, and declared the first day of that month as the New Year Day. The two faces of the god were symbolic of the old year passing and the coming of the New Year. The celebrations were usually noisome and rowdy.

The Church asserted that March 25th, the day of Annunciation as the New Year Day. William the Conqueror, declared the Roman custom as correct and it was followed – for the reason that January 1st was the date of his coronation.

Till the middle of the 16th Century, there was a flip flop of New Year dates between January 1st and March 25th. Finally Pope Gregory XIII initiated a new calendar and reinstated January 1st as the New Year Day. On this day in 1581, Pope Gregory ordered the massacre of Jews.

December 31st is commemorated as St. Sylvester’s Day, in memory of Sylvester, who convinced his king that Jews should not live in Jerusalem and passed a set of stringent anti Semitic laws.

Slowly, the New Year Day, as January 1st spread all over the globe till it reached the Orient. British colonisation helped spread this concept and became well rooted in tradition. But countries like India, China and Indonesia have New Year Day on days other than January 1st.
Bihu, Puthandu, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa , Cheiroaba, Vishu Baisakhi  are the names by which New Year goes by in different parts of India.

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