New Year’s Eve: A Reflective History

As we approach midnight on New Year’s Eve, I though it would be fun to look at the history behind the event. In doing some research, I found some interesting facts about the holiday along the way.

  • Some 4000 years ago the Babylonians celebrated the beginning of their new year on the vernal equinox, the longest day of the year. Typically hitting on a day in late March, the Babylonians saw it as a time of harvest and renewal. A lot of early celebrations centered around the beginnings and endings of seasons.
  • It was around 46 BCE that Julius Caesar created his calendar, the one that most closely resembles the modern calendar of today. As a way of honoring Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, Caesar moved New Year’s day to the first day of Janus’ month, January.
  • Since then, people from around the world gather on the 31st to help ring in the new year. These range from the amazingly outlandish ball dropping in New York’s Time Square to the millions of small get-togethers around the world.
  • The first inhabited place on earth to celebrate New Year’s is Kiritimati Island in the Pacific Ocean.
  • In my hometown, we have a giant peach that drops at midnight. Does your town have something special it drops as the midnight bell tolls?peach drop

New Year’s has always been interesting to me for several reasons. There is something about the seemingly dispirit desires to both reflect on the past year while also looking forward to the future that I find very intriguing. And, while different cultures have different times for when New Year’s actually hits, it seems to be a common need among the world’s people to mark the end of something old and the beginning of something new. And, I get it; the ability to section off our lives is very attractive. It’s like every 12 months we give ourselves a do-over and the chance to make things better than they were. It seems like that’s the idea behind resolutions, right? It’s the one time in the year when we can make a definite mark and say ‘what’s happened before is done and I’ll look to this new year as a fresh start.’

So, here’s to finishing up another year and to all that 2015 will bring.


History Channel

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