Why do we celebrate the new year on January 1st?

The first time January 1 came to be considered the beginning of the new year came back in 45 BC. The previous Roman calendar began in March and consisted of 355 days. An additional intercalary month of 27 days or 28 days would sometimes be inserted between February and March.

The Roman dictator Julius Caesar was the one who reformed the calendar immediately after coming to power at the end of the first century BC. But even though the Julian calendar gained popularity, large parts of Europe did not accept it until the middle of the 16th century AD. With the advent of Christianity, January 1 as the beginning of a new year was seen as pagan, while December 25, with its religious connotations of the birth of Jesus, was considered more acceptable.

There was also the problem of Caesar’s miscalculation, which caused the New Year’s Day to continue to change. It was only after Pope Gregory reformed the Julian calendar and standardized January 1 as the first day of a new year that it slowly gained currency around the world.

Calendar made by Julius Caesar

The early Roman calendar was designed by Romulus, the founder of Rome in the 8th century BC. Numa Pompilius, who came to power a year later, became a 12-month year by adding the months of January and February.

But this calendar, which followed the lunar cycle, frequently fell out of sync with the seasons. Moreover, pontiffs or members of the council of priests in charge of overseeing the calendar were often accused of adding days to interfere with election dates or to extend a political term.

Caesar’s sculpture made during his lifetime. (Wikimedia Commons)

After Julius Caesar came to power in 46 BC, he tried to reform the calendar for which he received the advice of the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenus. Sosigenus suggested giving up the lunar cycle and following the sun instead, as the Egyptians did. Consequently, the year was calculated at 365 and ¼ days.

Interestingly, Caesar added 67 days in 46 BC, so the new year of 45 BC. to be able to start on January 1st. The date was chosen to honor the Roman god of the beginnings, Janus, who is believed to have two faces – one looking back to the past and the other to the future. Later, the ancient Romans celebrated the day by offering sacrifices to Janus and exchanging gifts between them.
However, with the spread of Christianity, the celebration of a Roman god was seen as a pagan ritual in many parts of Europe. Consequently, in medieval Europe, Christian leaders tried to celebrate the beginning of a new year on a day of more religious significance, such as December 25 (Christmas) or March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation).

There was also an error made by Caesar and Sosigenus in calculating the number of days in a solar year. The actual number of days in a solar calendar is 365.24199 as opposed to the 365.25 that Caesar had calculated. Consequently, there was a gap of 11 minutes each year, which was added to about 11 days until 1582. “This defect was a principle concern of the pope; if the Julian calendar had continued in service, Easter would have finally been celebrated in the summer, ”writes historian Gordon Moyer in his article, The Gregorian Calendar. Later began the effort to standardize a calendar, best suited to the Christian life of the Middle Ages.

Calendar made by Pope Gregory XIII

The reform was not easy. Pope Gregory gathered an eminent body of astronomers, mathematicians and clergy for this purpose. The main challenge he faced was to affect almost all civil calendars, to deal with a faction hanging at the end of the year.

To remedy the miscalculation of the Julian calendar, Aloysius Lilius, the Italian scientist who worked on the Gregorian calendar, devised a new system by which every fourth year would be a leap year, but the century years that were not divisible by 400 were exempted. For example, the 1600s and 2000s were leap years, but not the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. These revisions were officially instituted by the papal bull of February 24, 1582, sparking a furious debate between religious leaders and scholars.

happy new year 2021, happy new year, happy new year, happy new year 2021 wishes, happy new year 2021 pictures, new year 2021, pictures of new year 2021, new year 2021 wishes, january 1, why January 1 is new year , history from January 1, new year 2021, new year 2021, wishes new year 2021 Portrait of Pope Gregory XIII (Wikimedia Commons)

Religious opposition to the reform was essentially against Catholicism. “This was the age of the Reformation; Protestant countries rejected the new calendar, denouncing it as a papal plan to restore their jurisdiction in Rome, “writes Moyer. He adds that the accusation was not entirely unfounded, as Gregory XIII was a ruthless promoter of the Counter-Reformation.

As a result, Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal quickly adopted the new system. Protestant countries such as England and Germany remained until the end of the eighteenth century. Some accounts suggest that a revolt took place on the streets of England in 1752, when the country adopted the new calendar. The last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar was Greece in 1923.

While the European colonies in America adopted the new calendar when their mother countries adopted it, large parts of the non-European world began to adopt it during the twentieth century. Japan, for example, replaced its traditional lunar solar calendar with the Gregorian one in 1872, while China adopted it in 1912.

There are some countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mynamar, Israel, where the traditional calendar is used alongside the Gregorian calendar. In India, the Saka calendar beginning with the month of Chaitra (March 21/22) is used in conjunction with the Gregorian calendar for most official purposes.