It is that time of the year, again, when we start preparing for our new resolutions and welcome the New Year with open arms. A new calendar begins and we start the year with a new spirit and enthusiasm. Everybody around the world waits for the clock to strike 12 by countdowns. But let’s just take a moment to question ourselves as to why we celebrate New Year.
It has been found out that the New Year was not celebrated on Jan 1. In some cultures, it still isn’t. Akitu, a 12-day long New Year festival of the ancient Mesopotamians was celebrated on the vernal equinox while on December 20, around the Winter Solstice, the Greeks partied around. It was reported by Censorius, a Roman historian that the Egyptians also celebrated around the Sun on July 20, as published in an article of 1940 in a journal named Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society.
March used to mark the beginning of a year during the Roman era. The Julian calendar was created by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. which set the New Year on January 1. But even then the day couldn’t be standardized. The day still drifted back and forth in the calendar. It even collided with the Christmas on some years. At last, the Gregorian calendar was implemented in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The Gregorian calendar was formed in order to stop the calendar from wandering according to the seasons. By the 1500s, the Julian calendar had too many leap years and thus, the first spring came 10 days earlier.
In the early January, the Sun is closest to the Earth. It is also known as perihelion. It is quite a noteworthy event even though the selection of New Year day is completely arbitrary from the perspective of planets.
In the modern world, January 1 is universally celebrated to mark the beginning of New Year. But there are still some countries which depend on their own conventions of the calendar. These countries are Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, Ethiopian, and Saudi Arabia.
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Also, New Year is celebrated on different days by different religions. Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah, their New Year’s festival typically around September and October as the Jewish calendar is lunar. The Islamic calendar is lunar as well and their New Year drifts too. For example, the Islamic New Year was celebrated on December 18 in 2009 whereas it will be celebrated on August 31 in 2019 although, the date may vary. To the contrary, the Chinese calendar is also lunar but the Chinese New Year religiously falls between January 21 and February 20.