Wednesday, March 9, 2022

New Year

Our New Year's Day celebration on January 1 is a man-made tradition. Any natural or seasonal marker does not precisely fix it. It's a civil ceremony, not a natural one.

New Year

New Year

However, there is a sense of rebirth in the air for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, where daylight has lately dwindled to its lowest point and days are beginning to lengthen again. Is anyone up for some New Year's resolutions?

So, where did the idea of New Year's Day come from?

It comes from the feast of the Roman god Janus, which dates back to antiquity. Beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, entrances, passages, frames, and ends were all gods to him.

Since Janus was represented as a lion, this is also where the month of January gets its name.

Janus, who was represented as having two opposing faces, is also where the month of January gets its name.

One face was looking back into the past, while the other was looking ahead into the future.

Similarly, on January 1, we reflect on the previous year and look forward to the coming year.

The Romans made commitments to Janus to commemorate the new year. This old custom gave rise to the tradition of New Year's resolutions.

It was common to exchange cheery words of good wishes on January 1, the first day of the year. The rex sacrorum — priesthood linked with the Roman Senate – gave a ram sacrifice to Janus a few days later, on January 9.

New Year's Day hasn't always been on January 1st.

Some New Year's Eve celebrations used to take place on an equinox, a day when the sun is directly above the equator and night and day are of equal length. 

The vernal equinox, or March equinox, is a time of transition and new beginnings in many civilizations, therefore cultural festivities of the New Year were natural for that equinox.

The September equinox, also known as the autumnal equinox, was also considered by some to represent the start of a new year.

The French Republican calendar, for example, began its year at the September equinox during the French Revolution and was used for nearly 12 years from late 1793 until 1805.

On the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the Greeks celebrated the New Year.

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