New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome. With most countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, New Year's Day is the closest thing to being the world's only truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar currently 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.

History

The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st January 42 BC in honour of his life and his institution of the new rationalised calendar. The month originally owes its name to the deity Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. This suggests that New Year's celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. 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. This was 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 [for the house-elf, compare Puck] 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. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day of Jesus' life, counting from December 25 when he was believed to be born. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calendar.

New Year's Days in other calendars

In cultures which traditionally or currently use calendars other than the Gregorian, New Year's Day is often also an important celebration. Some countries concurrently use the Gregorian and another calendar. New Year's Day in the alternative calendar attracts alternative celebrations of New year.

  • Chinese New Year is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is the first day of the lunar calendar and is corrected for the solar every three years. The holiday normally falls between 20 January and 20 February. The holiday is celebrated with plenty of good food, families, lucky red envelopes (filled with money), and many other red things which resemble good luck. Lion and dragon dances, drums, fireworks, firecrackers, and other types of entertainment fill the streets on this day. This holiday is a favourite for many of the adults and children who celebrate it.
  • Thai New Year is celebrated on 13th April or 14th April and is called Songkran in the local language. People usually come out to splash water at each other to reduce the heat, of which is the most intense during this time of the year in Thailand.
  • Hindu New Year falls at the time and date the Sun enters Aries on the Hindu calendar. Normally on 14 April or 15 April depending on the Leap year. The new year is celebrated by paying respect to elders in the family and by seeking their blessings. They also exchange tokens of good wishes for a healthy and prosperous year ahead.
  • Tamil New Year (Puthandu) is celebrated on 13th April or 14th April. Traditionally, it is celebrated as Chiththirai Thirunaal in parts of Tamilnadu to mark the event of Sun entering into Aries. Panchangam (almanac), is read in temples to mark the start of the Year.
  • The Telugu New Year generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh, India celebrate the advent of New Year's Day in these months. This day is celebrated across entire Andhra Pradesh as UGADI (meaning the start of a new Year). The first month is Chaitra Masam. Masam means month.
  • Kashmiri Calendar, Navreh (New Year): 5083 Saptarshi/2064 Vikrami/2007–08 AD, 19 March. This holy day of Kashmiri Brahmins has been celebrated for several millennia.
  • Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu year by the people of Maharashtra, India. This day falls in March or April and coincides with Ugadi. (see: Deccan)
  • Ugadi, the Kannada New Year is celebrated by the people of Karnataka, India as the beginning of a new year according to the Hindu Calendar. The first month of the New Year is Chaitra.
  • Sindhi festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated on the same day as Ugadi/Gudi Padwa to mark the celebration of the Sindhi New Year.
  • Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3,000 years by the related cultural continent. The holiday is also celebrated and observed by many parts of Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China, Crimea and some groups in the Balkans. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in the Indian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.
  • Islamic The Hijri New Year, also known as Islamic new year (Arabic: رأس السنة الهجرية‎ Ras as-Sanah al-Hijriyah) is the day that marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year. New Year moves from year to year because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar.The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.
  • Israel is one country that uses the Gregorian calendar but does not formally celebrate the New Year's holiday — mainly due to objections by religious parties on the holiday's non-Jewish origins. However, there are Israeli Jews who partake in some sort of celebration. The date of the Jewish new year is celebrated on Rosh Hashanah no matter where the location.
  • Korean New Year called Seolnal is the first day of the lunar calendar. Koreans also celebrate solar New Year's Day on January 1 each year, following the Gregorian Calendar. People get a day off that day while have minimum three days off on Lunar New Year. People celebrate New Year's Day by preparing food for the ancestors' spirits, visiting ancestors' graves, then playing Korean games such as Yutnol'i {say: yun-no-ree} with families. Young children give respect to their parents, grandparents, relatives, and other elders by bowing down in a traditional way and are given good wishes and some money by the elders. Families enjoy the new years also by counting down until 12:00 a.m., which would be New Year's Day.
  • Ethiopian New Year called Enqutatash. It is celebrated on September 11 or September 12 based on the leap year. Ethiopian use their own ancient calendar. However some say it has connection with Julian calendar. The new year is the end of the summer season and where you see natural flowers every where in the country.

Traditional and modern celebrations and customs

New Year's Eve

January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including on radio, television and in newspapers, which starts in early December in countries around the world. Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. In some cases publications may set their entire year work alight in hope that the smoke emitted from the flame brings new life to the company. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has also become an occasion to celebrate the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are fireworks at midnight at the moment the new year arrives; watchnight services are also still observed by many.

Regional celebrations

  • In European countries, the New Year is greeted with private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.

National celebrations

  • In the United Kingdom there are many celebrations across the towns and cities, particularly in Scotland.
  • In Greece and Cyprus, families and relatives switch off the lights at midnight, then celebrate by cutting the "vassilopita" (Basil's pie) which usually contains one coin or equivalent. Whoever wins expects luck for the whole year. After the pie, a traditional game of cards called "triantaena" (31) follows.
  • In Nassau, Bahamas, the Junkanoo parade takes place.
  • In the Philippines, fireworks, booming sound system as well as make a lot of noise with the belief that the noises would scare evil spirits away, preventing them from bringing bad luck to the coming new year. The tables are laden with food for the Media Noche or midnight meal, and there is a basket of 12 different round fruits to symbolize prosperity in each of the coming year's 12 months. Public new year parties like those in New York and Sydney are also available to the people and very well attended.
  • In Russia and the other 14 former republics of the Soviet Union, the celebration of Old New Year or Novi God is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with a lavish dinner tables and gifts. In Moscow, the president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. The Kremlin's landmark Spassky Clock Tower chimes in the new year and then the anthem starts. It is customary to make a wish while the Clock chimes, so you are anxious to do it in time!
  • In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
  • In the United States, it is traditional to spend this occasion together with loved ones. A toast is made to the new year, with kisses, fireworks and parties among the customs. It is popular to make a New Year's resolution, although that is optional. In the country's most famous New Year celebration in New York City, the 11,875-pound (5,386-kg), 12-foot-diameter (3.7-m) Times Square Ball located high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59 p.m., with a countdown from :10 seconds until :01, when it reaches the bottom of its tower. The arrival of the new year is announced at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, music and a live celebration that is broadcast worldwide.
  • In France, people concern much attention to the weather that day. They regard the weather as the prediction of that year: wind blowing east, fruit will yield; wind blowing west, fish and livestock will be bumper; wind blowing south, there will be good weather all year round and wind blowing north, there will be crop failure. People would like to toast for the new year and drink till January 3. They think that they can't gain a beautiful year if they don't drink up all the wine left last year.

New Year's Day

The celebrations held world-wide on January 1 as part of New Year's Day commonly include the following:

  • Parades
  • American football: In the United States, January 1 is the traditional date for many post-season college football bowl games, which are usually accompanied by parades and other activities to celebrate the events.
  • Football: In Europe, Association Football, where a Full Fixture programme is usually played throughout the Premier League and the rest of the League/Non League system in England.
  • Ice hockey, most famously the Winter Classic in North America, a National Hockey League game that is played outdoors.
  • Concerts
  • Entertainment, usually enjoyed from the comfort of home.
  • Family time
  • Traditional meals
  • Church services
  • An annual dip in ice-cold water by hearty individuals, most famously by members of the Polar Bear Club.
  • Fireworks

New Year's babies

In Brittany, a common image used is that of an incarnation of Father Time (or the "Old Year") wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it passing on his duties to the Baby New Year (or the "New Year"), an infant wearing a sash with the new year printed on it.

In modern time and world-wide, the association of parenthood is with a baby's arrival, with New Year's Eve a father and mother together presenting their newborn child as the new year arrives and is celebrated.

People born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center in the U.S., give out prizes to the first baby born in that hospital in the new year. These prizes are often donated by local businesses. Prizes may include various baby related items such as baby formula, baby blankets, diapers, and gift certificates to stores which specialize in baby related merchandise.

Other celebrations on January 1

Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1). The Catholic Church now calls this a holy day of obligation.

Adoption of 1 January

It took quite a long time before 1 January again became the universal or standard start of the civil year. The years of adoption of 1 January as the new year are as follows:

Country Start year
Venice 1522
Sweden 1529
Holy Roman Empire (~Germany) 1544
Spain, Portugal, Poland 1556
Prussia, Denmark and Norway 1559
France (Edict of Roussillon) 1564
Southern Netherlands[22] 1576
Lorraine 1579
Dutch Republic 1583
Scotland 1600
Russia 1700
Tuscany 1721
Britain, Ireland and
British Empire
except Scotland
1752
Greece 1923
Thailand 1941

1 March was the first day of the numbered year in the Republic of Venice until its destruction in 1797, and in Russia from 988 until 1492 (AM 7000). 1 September was used in Russia from 1492 until the adoption of the Christian era in 1700 via a December 1699 decree of Tsar Peter I (previously, Russia had counted years since the creation of the world—Anno Mundi).

Autumnal equinox day (usually 22 September) was "New Year's Day" in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. This was primidi Vendémiaire, the first day of the first month.

Time zones

Because of the division of the globe into time zones, the new year moves progressively around the globe as the start of the day ushers in the New Year. The first time zone to usher in the New Year is just west of the International Date Line. At that time the time zone to the east of the Date Line is 23 hours behind, still in the previous day. The central Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati claims that its easternmost landmass, uninhabited Caroline Island, is the first to usher in the New Year.

Sutthona Banni Team (Yashaswi Payana) Wishes to All of You Happy New Year 2012.

Information Courtesy: Wikipedia

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