Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year

The New Year basically celibrates the cycle of the passing of the earth's orbit round the sun. The day you pick to celebrate this is arbitary unless you are using a lunar calender. Our New Year follows the Gregorian calendar and falls on 1 Januaryfollowing the Roman calender. 

The Roman calendar went from January to December since King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC. It was only relatively recently that 1 January again became the first day of the year in Western culture. Until 1751 in England and Wales the New Year started on 25 March – called Lady Day, one of the four quarter days.

In Britain the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes.

 The significance of quarter days is now limited to leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.

The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages, and they ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days.

The English quarter days were:

Lady Day (25 March)

Midsummer Day (24 June)

Michaelmas (29 September)

Christmas (25 December)

The British tax year still starts on 'Old' Lady Day, 6 April following the Gregorian calendar. 

During the Middle Ages several other days were variously taken as the beginning of the calendar year (1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, 25 December).

With the expansion of Western culture to many other places in the world during recent centuries, the Gregorian calendar has been adopted by other countries as the official calendar, and the 1 January date of New Year has become global, even in countries with their own New Year celebrations on other days (such as Israel, China and India). 

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about the beginning of spring (Lichun). The exact date can fall any time between 21 January and 21 February of the Gregorian Calendar. It is the most important Chinese celebration of the year.The Iranian New Year, called Nowruz, is the day in March containing the exact moment of the Northward equinox, which is when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. At the equinox, the horizon crosses the sun's disk directly in the east at dawn and crosses directly in the west at dusk.

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew for 'head of the year') is a Jewish, two day holiday, commemorating the culmination of the seven days of Creation, and marking God's yearly renewal of the world. 

The holiday is a festival and but also includes the Day of Atonement when a shofar is blown and all called to atone for their sins. God is believed to be assessing the creation and determining its fate for the coming year. In Jewish tradition, honey is used to symbolize a sweet new year. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten with blessings recited for a good, sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah 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.

Pagans celebrate their interpretation of Samhain (a festival of the ancient Celts, held around 1 November) as a New Year's Day representing the new cycle of the Wheel of the Year, although they do not use a different calendar that starts on this day.

The Islamic New Year occurs on 1 Muharram. Since the Muslim calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days, the Muslim New Year occurs about eleven days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar.

Since the 17th century, the Roman Catholic liturgical year has started on the first day of Advent, the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew's Day (30 November). The same liturgical calendar is followed by churches descended from it, including the Anglican and Lutheran Churches.

The Eastern Orthodox Church liturgical calendar begins on 1 September.

In 45 BC Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, and fixed 1 January as the first day of the year.

Later, with the spread of Christianity, various dates for the New Year which had special significance to Christianity were adopted. 1 January was associated with the incarnation of God’s son, Christ; 25 March was Annunciation Day or Lady Day. This is the day when Mary was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear God’s son Jesus.

When William the Conqueror took over the reins of England, he ordered that 1 January be established as the New Year to collaborate it with his coronation and with the circumcision of Jesus (on the eighth day from his birth on December 25). However, this was abandoned later as they joined the rest of the Christian world to celebrate New Year on 25 March.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII while reforming the Julian calendar established 1 January as the beginning of a New Year of the Gregorian calendar.

Because of the division of the globe into time zones, the New Year moves progressively around the globe as the start of the day ushers in the New Year. The first time zone to usher in the New Year is just west of the International Date Line. The central Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati claims that its easternmost landmass, uninhabited Caroline Island, is the first to usher in the New Year.



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