New Year's Day

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New Year's Day
Mexico City New Years 2013! (8333128248).jpg
Fireworks in Mexico City at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 2013
Observed byUsers of the Gregorian calendar
SignificanceThe first day of the Gregorian year
CelebrationsMaking New Year's resolutions, parades, sporting events, fireworks
DateJanuary 1
Next time1 January 2016 (2016-01-01)
Related toNew Year's Eve, the preceding day
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For other uses, see New Year's Day (disambiguation). For the day itself, unrelated to celebration of the New Year, see January 1.
New Year's Day
Mexico City New Years 2013! (8333128248).jpg
Fireworks in Mexico City at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 2013
Observed byUsers of the Gregorian calendar
SignificanceThe first day of the Gregorian year
CelebrationsMaking New Year's resolutions, parades, sporting events, fireworks
DateJanuary 1
Next time1 January 2016 (2016-01-01)
Related toNew Year's Eve, the preceding day

New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. As a date in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, New Year's Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and is still observed as such in the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church.[1][2] In present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar, New Year's Day is probably the most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone.


In Christendom, under which the Gregorian Calendar developed, New Year's Day traditionally marks the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, which is still observed as such by the Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church.

Mesopotamia (Iraq) instituted the concept of celebrating the new year 2000 BC.[3][4] The Romans dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the pagan god of gates, doors, and beginnings, for whom the first month of the year, January, is also named. The pagan deity Janus was depicted as having two faces: one looking forward and the other backward, suggesting that celebrations of the new year are pagan traditions. Some suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls, after whose names the Romans identified the years, acceded to office on that day, though there is no consensus on the question.[5] After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC as the Julian Calendar and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on 1 January 42 BC,[6] in honor of his life and his institution of the new rationalized calendar.[7] Dates in March, coinciding with the March Equinox, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Jesus Christ, or other Christian feasts were used throughout the Middle Ages as the first day of the new year, although their calendars nonetheless often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.[citation needed]

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts on the first day of the new year. This custom was deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemish and Dutch: "(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]."[8]

Most nations of Western Europe officially adopted 1 January as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian Calendar. In England, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the first day of the new year was the Catholic Feast of the Annunciation, on 25 March, also called "Lady Day". Dates predicated on the year beginning on 25 March became known as Annunciation Style dates, while dates of the Gregorian Calendar commencing on 1 January were distinguished as Circumcision Style dates,[9] because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, the observed memorial of the eighth day of Jesus Christ's life after his birth, counted from the latter's observation on Christmas, 25 December. Pope Gregory christened 1 January as the beginning of the new year according to his reform of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.[10]

New Year's Days in other calendars[edit]

In cultures which traditionally or currently use calendars other than the Gregorian, New Year's Day is often also an important celebration. Some countries concurrently use the Gregorian and another calendar. New Year's Day in the alternative calendar attracts alternative celebrations of that new year:


East Asian[edit]


Middle Eastern[edit]

South Asian/India[edit]

Traditional and modern celebrations and customs[edit]

New Year's Eve[edit]

Main article: New Year's Eve
Sydney contributes to some of the major New Year celebrations each year.

January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including on radio, television and in newspapers, which starts in early December in countries around the world. Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. In some cases publications may set their entire year work alight in hope that the smoke emitted from the flame brings new life to the company. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has also become an occasion to celebrate the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are fireworks at midnight at the moment the new year arrives (the major one is in Sydney; watchnight services are also still observed by many.)[14]

Regional celebrations[edit]

National celebrations[edit]

Happy Christmas and New Year card

New Year's Day[edit]

The celebrations held world-wide on January 1 as part of New Year's Day commonly include the following:

New Year's babies[edit]

A common image used, often as an editorial cartoon, is that of an incarnation of Father Time (or the "Old Year") wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it passing on his duties to the Baby New Year (or the "New Year"), an infant wearing a sash with the new year printed on it.[19]

Babies born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center[20] in the US, give out prizes to the first baby born in that hospital in the new year. These prizes are often donated by local businesses. Prizes may include various baby-related items such as baby formula, baby blankets, diapers, and gift certificates to stores which specialize in baby-related merchandise.

Other celebrations on January 1[edit]

The Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Hebrew tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1). The Roman Catholic Church celebrates on this day the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is also a Holy Day of Obligation. In the United States, New Year's Day is a postal holiday.[21]

Johann Sebastian Bach composed several church cantatas for the double occasion:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McKim, Donald K. (1996). Dictionary of Theological Terms. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 51. ISBN 0664255116. 
  2. ^ Hobart, John Henry (1840). A Companion for the festivals and fasts of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Stanford & Co. p. 284. 
  3. ^ Brunner, Borgna. "A History of the New Year". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Andrews, Evan (31 December 2012). "5 Ancient New Year’s Celebrations". History News. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967), p. 97-8.
  6. ^ Warrior, Valerie (2006). Roman Religion. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-521-82511-3. 
  7. ^ Courtney, G. Et tu Judas, then fall Jesus (iUniverse, Inc 1992), p. 50.
  8. ^ Quoting the Vita of St. Eligius written by Ouen.
  9. ^ Harris, Max (2011-03-17). Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools. Cornell University Press. p. 35. ISBN 9780801449567. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Trawicky, Bernard (2000-07-01). Anniversaries and Holidays (5th ed.). American Library Association. p. 222. ISBN 9780838906958. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Time and dates in Ithiopia [sic]". Rasta Ites. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Gregg, Cherri (May 13, 2013). "Oshunbumi Fernandez, Caring Through Culture and Odunde 365". CBS Philadelphia. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Nanakshahi Calendar at
  14. ^ "Watch Night services provide spiritual way to bring in New Year". The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 28 December 2011. The service is loosely constructed with singing, spontaneous prayers and testimonials, and readings, including the Covenant Renewal service from The United Methodist Book of Worship (pp. 288-294). 
  15. ^ Kochilas, Diane. The Glorious Foods of Greece. HarperCollins. p. 828. ISBN 9780061859588. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  16. ^ World Book (1998-09-01). Christmas in the Philippines. World Book, Inc. p. 61. ISBN 9780716608530. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Yue Feng, ed. (1991). 世界节 [World Festival]. (in Chinese). ISBN 978-7211058990. 
  18. ^ Medina, F. Xavier (2005). Food Culture In Spain. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 46. ISBN 9780313328190. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  19. ^ Birx, H. James (2009-01-13). Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture. Sage Publications. p. 510. ISBN 9781412941648. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  20. ^ Dyersburg State Gazette (2008-12-31). "DRMC rounds up prizes for New Year's baby, Life Choices". Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  21. ^ United States Postal Service Website. About

External links[edit]