New Year’s Day, also called New Year or New Year’s, is the first day of January every year. It is the time for renewals, for taking a fresh start and for feeling hope for the coming future.

It is celebrated all over the world as the beginning to a new year full of happiness and hope. Celebrations for the New Year date back to ancient civilizations.

Historically, it was Mesopotamia that initiated the celebration of each New Year in 2000 BC. New Year was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox (which takes place in mid-March).

According to the early Roman calendar, 1st of March was the first day of each new year. Eventually, the January was marked as the beginning month of the new year. Consequently, 1st of January was then celebrated as the New Year.

It was the day for inaugurating new consuls in 153 BC. Private celebrations in the month of March, however, still continued for some time afterward.

Church and New Year Celebrations

The Church, aware of the lagging practice of celebrating News Years’ Day in January, decided to step in. In 1570s, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a new calendar. This calendar, known as the Gregorian Calendar, was implemented a year later. It implemented a new rule, that only one of every four years would be a leap year.

Religious Significance

Most Western European nations officially adopted January 1st as the first day of the year even before the adopted the Gregorian Calendar. In pre-Christian times, during the reign of the Romans, this day was dedicated to Janus; the God of Gateways and Beginnings.

The month of January is also named after him. Later, Roman Catholics celebrated the Solemnity of Mary on this day, which is a feast honoring the Virgin Mary. This day also marked, in the Christian religious calendar, the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. The occasion is still celebrated by the Anglican and Lutheran Church(s).

Common Activities on New Year’s Day

  • Watching championship football games in the stadiums.- Times Square in New York hosts multiple exciting events to welcome the New Year.
  • Making resolutions for the new year.
  • Parades in different cities around the world (from London all the way to New York).
  • Certain types of foods are also enjoyed on this occasion, including circular food (which symbolizes completed cycles) along with cakes and baked food items.
  • In Italy, chiacchiere (which are honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar) are prepared for New Year’s Day.
  • In Netherlands, a puffy, dough-nut-like pastry filled with apples, raisins, and currants is devoured by celebrating crowds. This dish is known as ‘olliebollen’.
  • A traditional New Years’ drink is Champagne. Until the French Revolution, most important occasions were marked by religious ceremonies.
  • After the Revolution, however, Champagne replaced Holy Water and the tradition to drink Champagne to mark important events originated in Europe before spreading to the rest of the Western world.
  • Other activities and customs of New Year’s Day include ice hockey, concerts, attending Church services and maybe even horse racing.


  • New Year’s Day is celebrated to marked the beginning of the new year, typically on January 1 of each year.
  • Celebrations for the New Year date back to ancient Mesopotamian civilizations in 2000 B.C.
  • Romans celebrated New Year on 1st of March. This was later changed to 1st of January with the change in Roman calendar.
  • New Year’s Day is also the day of the Solemnity of Mary as well as the Feast of Naming and Circumcision of Jesus.
  • Modern New Year’s Day traditions include attending games, making resolutions and going to parades and concerts.
  • New Year’s superstitions include wearing new clothes on the day and not doing laundry or washing any clothes.


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