As the posts on The Editorian focus on word etymology and grammar in the English language, we delve periodically into celebrations that have become engrained into our culture. As the new year is here (ahem, first post of the year), at The Editorian we wonder why our culture celebrate the new year. Where did originate from?
Around 2,000 B.C., Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) instituted the concept of the new year in mid-March. This was in time for the vernal equinox. But, it took until many, many generations later for the new year celebrations becoming engrained into our culture.
Julius Caesar, Rome’s dictator, started his reign in 60 B.C. With the help of his fellow friends, Crassus and Pompey, they ruled the Roman empire until Julius’s assassination in March 44 B.C.
During Julius’s reign, he helped expand the Roman empire to its glory, conquering much of today’s Europe as the Roman province. Furthermore, he created the Julius calendar.
The Julius calendar, technically, went to ten months beginning with March 1st. Julius decided that the calendar needed more reformation and consulted in an Alexandrian astronomer, Sosigenes. Sosigenes consulted Julius to follow the lunar cycles, as the Egyptians did. The days turned out to be 365 1/4 in a year, and Julius added 67 days to 45 B.C. so the new year can fall on January 1st, 46 B.C.
The new year celebration fell out of practice during the Middle Ages, the ones who followed the Julius calendar celebrated the new year on latter days than January 1st. However, there was a problem with the calendar’s mathematics. In the 1570s, the Roman Church quickly commissioned a Jesuit astronomer, Christopher Clavius, to create a new calendar, the Gregorian. The new calendar omitting ten days and establishing a rule that in one every four years a leap year will occur. This is the calendar we use today and the new year falls precisely on January 1st.
Happy New Year readers!