Thursday, January 1, 2015

NEW YEAR'S DAY



New Year's Day is the first day of the new year. On the modern Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated on January 1, as it was also in ancient Rome (though other dates were also used in Rome). In all countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, except for Israel, it is a public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year.

Modern practices
January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of a particular passing year, especially on radio, television, and in newspapers, which usually starts right after Christmas Day. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts, and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has become an occasion for celebration the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight. Depending on the country, individuals may be legally allowed to burn fireworks, even if it's usually outlawed the rest of the year.

It is also customary to make New Year's resolutions, which individuals hope to fulfil in the coming year. The most popular resolutions in the western world include to quit tobacco smoking, stop excessive drinking of alcohol, lose weight, and get physically fit.

History
Probably observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, New Year's Day was fixed on January 1 by the period of the Late Republic. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter. Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th-century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year, a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25 (9 months before December 25), was the first day of the new year in England until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. [So the common expression: "We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" had to have originated after that date.] The March 25 date was called Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was called Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25.

Image & text:wikipedia.com


Titian in the Frari (Venezia)