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New Year's Facts

Facts About New Year's

Western New Year

In countries governed by the Gregorian calendar, the celebration of New Year is celebrated on January 1, the date that is considered the most festive of them.
Celebrations on the Bay of Valparaiso, Chile; beginning of the show called "New Year at Sea".

Traditionally, the Roman calendar began the first day of March. However, it was in January (the eleventh month) when the consuls of ancient Rome assumed the government. Julius Caesar, in 47 BC, changed the system, creating the Julian calendar, with some modifications in the time of Marco Antonio consul in 44 BC, the emperor Augustus Caesar in 8 BC and finally by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is used today. This year begins on January 1. Subsequently, the Gregorian calendar had the habit and the celebration was marked with a religious significance during the Middle Ages and later centuries.

With the expansion of Western culture to the rest of the world during the twentieth century, the January 1 date became universal in nature, even in countries with their own New Year celebrations (e.g., China).

Did You Know?

  • The New Year feast is closely related to the celebration of Christmas Eve, Christmas and Hannukah. Due to the closeness between all these events, much of the world sees the last week of the year as the beginning of the holiday period, either in winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) or summer (in the Southern Hemisphere).
  • According to the Christian tradition, on January 1 coincides with the circumcision of Christ (eight days after birth), when the name of Jesus (Luke (II: 21)).
  • In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year—Rosh Hashana. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashana greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.[2]


  • 1 January: The first official day of the year in the Gregorian calendar used by most countries. Eight of the twelve biggest Eastern Orthodox Churches which have adopted the Revised Julian calendar - Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Syria and Turkey - also celebrate 1 January as the New Year.
  • In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the civil New Year falls on Gregorian 14 January (1 January in the Julian calendar). Many in the countries where Eastern Orthodoxy predominates celebrate both the Gregorian and Julian New Year holidays, with the Gregorian day celebrated as a civic holiday, and the Julian date as the "Old New Year", a religious holiday. The orthodox churches of Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia still use the Julian Calendar.
  • The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about four to eight weeks before spring (Lichun). The exact date can fall anytime between 21 January and 21 February (inclusive) of the Gregorian Calendar. Traditionally, years were marked by one of twelve Earthly Branches, represented by an animal, and one of ten Heavenly Stems, which correspond to the five elements. This combination cycles every 60 years. It is the most important Chinese celebration of the year.
  • The Vietnamese New Year is the Tết Nguyên Đán which is for most times the same day as the Chinese New Year.
  • The Tibetan New Year is Losar and falls from January through March.

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[5][6]
Venice 1522
Sweden 1529
Holy Roman Empire (Germany) 1544
Spain, Portugal 1556
Prussia, Denmark[7] and Norway 1559
France 1564
Southern Netherlands[8] 1576
Lorraine 1579
Dutch Republic 1583
Scotland 1600
Russia 1700
Tuscany 1721
Britain and
British Empire
except Scotland
Thailand 1941

Portions of this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "New Year".


  1. ^ Anthony Aveni, "Happy New Year! But Why Now?" in The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 11-28.
  2. ^ Rosh Hashanah: Prayers, Shofars, Apples, Honey and Pomegranates
  3. ^ Aboriginal Tribes of Australia. Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names Published 1974 page 27
  4. ^ Roman Dates: Eponymonous Years
  5. ^ Mike Spathaky Old Style and New Style Dates and the change to the Gregorian Calendar: A summary for genealogists
  6. ^ The Change of New Year's Day