2012 Celebration of New Year’s Day: History, Ancient New Years Global, Good Luck Traditions, and Chinese New Year

Celebration of New Year’s Day
History, Ancient New Years,  Global Good Luck, Traditions Chinese New Year

La Diaspora peruana

New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian 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 honor of his life and his institution of the new rationalized 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 counting from December 25 when Christ 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

The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.

The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

In the middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Ancient New Years

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.

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.

Global Good Luck Traditions

With New Year's upon us, here's a look at some of the good luck rituals from around the world. They are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity in the coming year.

AUSTRIA - The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the New Year. It's served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

ENGLAND - The British place their fortunes for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They believe the first visitor of each year should be male and bearing gifts. Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back. Guests who are empty-handed or unwanted are not allowed to enter first.

WALES - At the first toll of midnight, the back door is opened and then shut to release the old year and lock out all of its bad luck. Then at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened and the New Year is welcomed with all of its luck.

HAITI - In Haiti, New Year's Day is a sign of the year to come. Haitians wear new clothing and exchange gifts in the hope that it will bode well for the New Year.

SICILY - An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year's Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck.

SPAIN - In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish eat 12 grapes, one with every toll, to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead.

PERU - The Peruvian New Year's custom is a spin on the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the turn of the year. But in Peru, a 13th grape must be eaten to assure good luck.

GREECE - A special New Year's bread is baked with a coin buried in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child, the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.

JAPAN - The Japanese decorate their homes in tribute to lucky gods. One tradition, kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility.

CHINA - For the Chinese New Year, every front door is adorned with a fresh coat of red paint, red being a symbol of good luck and happiness. Although the whole family prepares a feast for the New Year, all knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone from cutting themselves, which is thought to cut the family's good luck for the next year.

UNITED STATES - The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the United States is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the New Year.

NORWAY - Norwegians make rice pudding at New Year's and hide one whole almond within. Guaranteed wealth goes to the person whose serving holds the lucky almond.

Chinese New Year

Except for a very few number of people who can keep track of when the Chinese New Year should be, the majority of the Chinese today have to rely on a typical Chinese calendar to tell it. Therefore, you cannot talk of the Chinese New Year without mentioning the Chinese calendar at first.

A Chinese calendar consists of both the Gregorian and lunar-solar systems, with the latter dividing a year into twelve month, each of which is in turn equally divided into thirty- nine and a half days. The well-coordinated dual system calendar reflects the Chinese ingenuity.

There is also a system that marks the years in a twelve-year cycle, naming each of them after an animal such as Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. People born in a particular year are believed to share some of the personalities of that particular animal.


New York, December 30, 2012.



References

1. Warrior, Valerie M. (2006). Roman Religion. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0521825113

2. Courtney, G. Et tu Judas, then fall Jesus (Universe, Inc 1992), p. 50.

3. Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967), p. 97-8.

4. "Watch Night services provide spiritual way to bring in New Year". The United Methodist Church. http://www.interpretermagazine.org/interior.asp?ptid=43&mid=11612. Retrieved 28 December 2011. "The service is loosely constructed with singing, spontaneous prayers and testimonials, and readings, including the Covenant Renewal service from The United Methodist Book of Worship (pp. 288-294)."

5. 《世界节》岳峰主编

6. DRMC rounds up prizes for New Year's baby, Life Choices

7. Wilkipidia.

Popular posts from this blog

Las Pandillas en el Peru : Los jóvenes invisibles & los pandilleros visibles

CRIMEN DE LESA HUMANIDAD EN EL PERU: Definiendo el crimen contra la humanidad

Conversando con Chantal Toledo Karp