New Year's History


So I went in search of how the New Year’s tradition got started, and I could only find one source, and now that's gone! "This isn't good," I said to myself, "what if whoever compiled this information did it while suffering a huge hangover from New Year’s past?!"

Well, what can I do? I'm gonna add my own tweaks and twists, make some assumptions and come to my own conclusions. Thus, be warned--use this as a somewhat fictional, yet totally fun look at celebrating New Year’s!

According to my research, we, as walking, talking humans have been welcoming the New Year for about 4000 years. Records show that around 2000 BC, the Babylonians began celebrating New Year’s on March 23 (the beginning of spring) although the reference says, "they themselves had no written calendar." It went on for 11 days (I like that! What's with this one day thing?) They had a regular festival going on. Obviously, these Babylonian guys knew how to party. One must wonder though, if there was no rock and roll, no personalized candy bar wrappers, no glow jewelry and not a pair of "New Year's" glasses to be found, what exactly did they do?

Of course, the Romans were on a different plan. New Year’s began on March 25 (still considered the beginning of spring) for quite a while but since the egos of the emperors were so out of control, they kept changing the calendar until it no longer synchronized with the sun. This is not good, they thought to themselves. "In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days."

445 days without celebrating New Year’s? Talk about dragging things out! And what if his demise had been moved up a tad? Would we still be waiting for the new year? Scary that our whole history was in the hands of Julius...a man who later became associated with orange juice.

But wait, things once again became mired in controversy when the Catholic Church condemned celebrating New Year’s, calling it "paganism." Not for long, though. The masses won out as Christianity spread and the pagan celebrations became more accepted, and in fact, expected. I wasn't there, but I'm sure those who shunned New Year’s became outcasts and lived in colonies deep in the forest where there were no calendars or sundials.

Around 600BC, the Greeks began using a baby to signify the New Year and would pay homage to the "god of Wine, Dionysus, parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility." The "baby time" thing was "brought to early America by the Germans."

And the rest is history. Western nations have been celebrating for about 400 Years. Why did it take them so long? Who knows? We’re just glad they eventually did it.

Put a noisemaker in our mouths, a bunch of streamers in our hands and a stupid-looking hat on our heads, and we're happy to celebrate anything. Isn't that right?

And that's that.