New Year's Day History

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Happy New Year’s Day!

2016 brings with it the excitement and the anticipation of a new year. For many, it symbolizes a fresh start; for others, it’s just another day.

Whatever your point of view may be, there is no denying the historical aspects of New Year’s Day.

The earliest recorded New Year’s Day festivities date back 4,000 years ago to ancient Babylon.

Babylonians didn’t celebrate the new year on January 1st; rather, they rang in the new year in March – on the first new moon following the vernal equinox. They marked the day with a massive religious festival known as “Akitu.”

Emperor Julius Caesar is credited with making January 1 the official start of the new year.

He introduced the Julian calendar after consulting with prominent astronomers and mathematicians

Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the new year in part to honor Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first day of the year with days of religious significance; however, Pope Gregory XIII (Gregorian calendar) reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

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