The end of the year and start of a brand new one has deep spiritual roots. For centuries, there is a tradition attached to this time of the year. The start of the new year carry a special symbolism, and that’s why this celebration is so common around the world. There is something intrinsic, something profoundly meaningful and important, given all the energy and resources we invest not just in the celebration but also our efforts to make good on a fresh set of resolutions.
The earliest recorded festivities in honour of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox (the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness) heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu. This festival celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat, and served an important historical purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed. In medieval Europe, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, new years day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named.
The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. It’s believed that it was created by Egyptian astronomers (Alexandrian astronomers headed by Sozigen) although named after Julius. Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar and made what is known as Gregorian calendar. Catholic countries switched to a new calendar almost immediately, protestant countries did that uneasily and the last one of them was Great Britain in 1752. And the last country adopted this calendar was orthodox Greece.
Now Julian calendar is used only by few orthodox churches like Serbian and Russian. Julian calendar still lagging behind Gregorian – every 100 years (if the century is not divided by 4 without residue) by 1 day or by 3 days per 400 years. This difference is 13 days by the 20th century. It is important to note that not all cultures follow the Gregorian calendar in observing New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For example, the New Year in the Hindu, Chinese, Coptic, Jewish, Islamic calendars differ to that of the Gregorian calendar. Though the selection of the new year is essentially arbitrary from a planetary perspective, there is one noteworthy astronomical event that occurs around this time: The Earth is closest to the sun in early January, a point known as the perihelion.
New Year’s Eve marks the ending of one year, and the beginning of a brand new year filled with new hopes and dreams. The beginning of a new year is a time to put an end to the past year which is now old, and begin fresh with a new one. It is a period of renewal. The meaning of New Year’s Day lies in the reflection of last year’s achievements and failures and it is about looking forward to the promise of a new year, of a new beginning. New Year’s Day is a day of connecting to the energy that makes your essence as a human being, it is a time where you evaluate your life and plan and resolve to take action. On New Year’s Day focus on accepting that happiness comes from the achievement of your own values. If you want to enjoy that sense of purpose, accomplishment and pleasure, you need to do whatever you can to achieve what really matters to you. Happiness that is the motor and purpose of your life, and it is on the first day of the year, more than any other day, that the universe conspires in your favour, so the attainment of happiness is more real and possible than ever for you.