History of New Year Celebrations

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Happy New Year!

All nations around the globe are preparing to celebrate the coming of the New Year – a symbol of the new beginning, of new hopes and brighter future. But do you know that although New Year has been celebrated since the dawn of mankind, it hasn’t always been at the same date.

And what is the Chinese New Year? Or the Muslim?

There are many calendars calculating the time differently, therefore, according to them there are many different ‘New Years’. The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, however, falls on 1 January and is celebrated by the larger part of the world.

The tradition of 1 January as the first day of the New Year goes back to the Roman Empire, when Romans praised the god of gates and doors, Janus. Janus had two faces – one looking forward, and the other looking backwards. Romans also named the first month, January to this god.

In Western culture New Year has been marked at different days. During the Middle Ages several dates were taken as a beginning of the calendar year – 1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, 25 December. In England and Wales, as well as in all British dominions, New Year was celebrated on 25 March – Lady Day, until 1751. This was the day when the angel Gabriel told Mary she was going to bring to earth God’s son.

According to the Julian calendar, in the Eastern Orthodox Church New Year is on 14 January and is celebrated as a religious holiday, while 1 January is a civic holiday. The ancient Babylonian New Year fell was in March, the Assyrian occurs on the first day of April, Nepali New Year is on 12-15 April. In India there are several different New Years, and the Islamic New year – Hijri, Ras as-Sanah al-Hijriyah, occurs on 1 Muharram (the first month of Islamic calendar), about seven days earlier than in the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese New Year occurs on the new moon of the first lunar month, the date is between 21 January and 21 February of the Gregorian calendar. Years are marked by twelve animals, or Earthly Branches, and ten Heavenly Stems, or five elements. The combination cycles every 60 years and people define all aspects of the whole period with this combination.

Although according to the Maya calendar the world is coming to its end on 21 December, many people are preparing for the celebrations. Scientists are still arguing about this calendar, the way time has been calculated, and of course, about the End of Days, like some call it. 21 December is believed to be the end-date of the 5125-year-long—cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

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