The History of New Year’s Celebrations
Happy New Year from Astral Internet to all of our clients! We appreciate you being with us and look forward to providing you high-quality web hosting and VPS solutions in the New Year. With this celebratory New Year’s blog post, let’s have a little fun take a look at the historical roots of New Year’s celebrations.
The concept of the New Year celebration originated in ancient Mesopotamia in 2000 BC. The Romans later dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the god of beginnings (the month of January is also named after this deity). In 46 BC, Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar, of which January 1 is the first day. After his murder, the Romans deified Julius Caesar on New Year’s Day, 42 BC.
Early European pagans celebrated New Year’s Day by exchanging gifts. Most western European countries adopted January 1 as New Year’s Day once Pope Gregory III introduced the Gregorian calendar, a refinement of the Julian calendar, in 1582. In Christendom, New Year’s Day was celebrated as part of the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.
The start of NYE celebrations
While New Year’s Day was traditionally celebrated as a religious feast, since the late 1800s, it has also been popular to celebrate New Year’s Eve, December 31, with fireworks and other festivities. Outside of religious contexts, New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day began to represent a celebration of the past year and excitement for the start of a new year.
This interesting article from The Atlantic discusses the extravagant New Year’s Eve parties thrown by the nouveau riche Americans of the Gilded Age. According to this article, while the tradition of drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve started in France, the custom was popularized by the American wealthy in the second half of the 19th century.
Quebec winter festivities
Many cultures around the world celebrate winter and New Year’s festivities apart from January 1 and December 31 celebrations. For example, the Chinese New Year takes place in late January or early February.
In Quebec, since the start of our French colony, New France’s inhabitants have made a tradition of gathering before Lent, from the end of January until mid-February, to celebrate with food and drink. In 1894, a large winter carnival was held in Quebec City, and the Carnaval de Quebec remains an annual tradition to this day.
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