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For other calendars, see New Year.
New Year's Day
Observed by Almost all users of the Gregorian calendar and others
Significance The first day of the Gregorian year
Date 1 January
Celebrations Making New Year's resolutions, parades, additional sporting events, fireworks
Related to New Year's Eve or Old Year's Night, the previous day

New Year's Day is the first day of the year. On the modern Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated on January 1, as it was also in ancient Rome (though other dates were also used in Rome). In all countries except for Israel using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, it is a public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year. In Western Christianity New Year's Day, January 1, is the eighth day of Christmas.


Modern practices

January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of a particular passing year, especially on radio, television and in newspapers, which usually starts right after thanksgiving. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has become an occasion for celebration the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight. Some countries, Germany for example[1], permit individuals to burn fireworks, even if it's usually outlawed the rest of the year.

It is also customary to make New Year's resolutions, which individuals hope to fulfil in the coming year. The most popular resolutions in the Western world include to quit tobacco smoking, stop excessive drinking of alcohol, lose weight, get physically fit, and save money.[2]


Probably observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, New Year's Day was fixed on January 1 by the period of the Late Republic. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter.[3] Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "(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]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The 25 March date was known as Annunciation Style; the 1 January date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25.[citation needed]

New Year's Days in other calendars

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 often attracts more elaborate celebrations than the Gregorian New year.[citation needed]

Other celebrations on 1 January

Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that Jesus was born on December 25, and that, according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (which would be January 1). The Catholic Church has also given the name Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to their holy day on January 1.

Specific, high-profile or common celebrations


New Year's Day

  • On New Year's Day, people in certain countries gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States are the most popular countries for this. These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges, and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity. Polar Bear Clubs in many Northern Hemisphere cities near bodies of water, have a tradition of holding organized plunges on New Year's Day.
  • In Britain an extra round of football fixtures is played (unless New Year's Day falls on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday).
  • In Pasadena, California, United States the Tournament of Roses is held, with revellers viewing the parade from the streets and watching on television, followed by the Rose Bowl college football game. The game is one of several post-season bowl games played in college football in the United States (though in 2004 and 2006, due to its involvement in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the Rose Bowl game was not held on New Year's Day).
  • Vienna New Year Concert, in Austria.
  • In Philadelphia, the Mummers Parade is held on Broad Street.
  • Hindu New Year, which falls at the time and date Sun enters Mesha.
  • Hindus celebrate the new year by paying respects to their parents and other elders and seek their blessings. They also exchange tokens of good wishes for healthy and prosperous year ahead.
  • The New Year's Day Parade is held in London. Performers include acts from each of the city's 32 boroughs, as well as entertainment from around the world.
  • Since 2008, the National Hockey League has held its annual Winter Classic, an outdoor regular season hockey game, on New Year's Day.
  • In the Southern United States, people traditionally prepare a meal of collard greens or cabbage with black-eyed peas or pork for a year of good luck. A dime is often placed beneath the plate as a part of the tradition.
  • Ski jumping in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, a part of the Four Hills Tournament.
  • In Pennsylvania and Ohio,[4] mostly in or near Pennsylvania "Dutch" (Deitch/German) areas, it is common to celebrate New Year's Day with a meal of pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. The practice comes from a Pennsylvania "Dutch" tradition that dictates these foods will bring good luck in the new year.
  • In Korea, people celebrate New Year's Day by playing a Korean game called Yutnoli {say: yout-no-lee} (윷놀이) together with their families. Young children give respect to their parents, grandparents, relatives, and elders by bowing down in a traditional way. If they do this, they may be rewarded!(usually by money.) Families enjoy the new years also by counting down until 12:00 a.m., which would be New Year's Day.

New Year's Eve

Hogmanay (New year) celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Sydney leads the world in one of the first major New Year celebrations each year.
Taipei 101 New Year's fireworks in Taipei, Taiwan in 2008.
  • In Brazil, celebrations are held around the nation. Most famous is the celebration in Rio de Janeiro which occurs in Copacabana beach, drawing 1.5 to 2.5 million people.
  • In Australia, celebrations are held around the nation, especially in Sydney, where the world's largest fireworks displays draws 1 to 1.5 million people to the harbour. Australia is the second country in the world to celebrate the new year after New Zealand.
  • In New York City, the 11,875-pound (5,386-kg), 12-foot-diameter (3.7-m) Times Square Ball located high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59:00 p.m., or the last minute of the year, and reaches the bottom of its tower at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, flashing lights and extensive media coverage. This celebration attracts around 1 million people every year. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors.
  • In London, thousands gather along the Embankment on the River Thames to watch the fireworks around the London Eye
  • Other ball drops occur in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney Harbour.
  • In European countries, the New Year is greeted with private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.
  • In Scotland, there are many special customs associated with the New Year. These are a part of the Scottish celebration Hogmanay, the Scots name for the New Year. The World famous street party in Princes Street in Edinburgh is one of the examples of Hogmanay events. For more see here.
  • In Russia the New Year is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with lavish dinner tables and gifts. The president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. A giant clock tower chimes in the new year, and it is customary to make a wish with each chime. (See Novi God)
  • In South Korea, the most popular way of celebrating New Year's Day is to travel to Jung dong jin, the place on the peninsula where the Sun can first be seen each day.
  • Junkanoo parade, in Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Some mayors in North America hold New Year levees.
  • In Wales, Calennig is celebrated, with celebrations attracting thousands of people in the capital, Cardiff.
  • Japanese New Year in Japan.
  • The Peach Drop in Underground Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
  • In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
  • In the Philippines, people light fireworks, loud firecrackers, booming sound system, bamboo canons as well as make a lot of noise with the belief that the noises would scare evil spirits away and prevent them from bringing bad luck to the coming new year. Coins are also jumbled in tin cans to make noise with the belief that this will bring more money to the revelers. Children are encouraged to jump about as there was an old belief that this was supposed to make you taller. People wear clothing with polka-dots, the round figures symbolizing fertility and abundance (as in round fruits and coins); some would wear other colorful clothing just to show their enthusiasm for the coming new year. The tables are laden with food for the Media Noche or midnight meal, and there is a basket of 12 different round fruits to symbolize prosperity in each of the coming year's 12 months. Most Filipinos would light their own fireworks, but public new year parties like those in New York and Sydney, are also available to the people and are often very well attended.
  • Israel is one country that uses the Gregorian calendar but does not formally celebrate the New Year's holiday — mainly due to objections by religious parties on the holiday's non-Jewish origins.[citation needed] However, many secular Israeli Jews do partake in some sort of informal celebration, especially if they have European, North American, or former USSR origins, who celebrate the Russian version of the holiday, Novi God.
  • In Greece, families and relatives switch off the lights at midnight, then celebrate by cutting the "vassilopita" (Basil's pie) which usually contains one coin or equivalent, whoever wins expects luck for the whole year. After the pie, a traditional game of cards called "triantaena" (31) follows, similar to black jack.
  • It is popular to kiss loved ones on New Year's Eve.

Images associated with New Year's Day

In Brittany, a common image used 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.

New Year's babies

People born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center[5] in the U.S., 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.

See also


  1. ^ In Germany, Kleinfeuerwerk(German) may be legally sold to the general public only during the last days of the year, and burned only on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. See § 23 Abs. 1 der 1. Verordnung zum Sprengstoffgesetz (SprengV)(German).
  2. ^ Popular New Year's Resolutions on
  3. ^ Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967), p. 97-8.
  4. ^ Eat your lucky pork and sauerkraut, tradition says it will bring you prosperity in the new year
  5. ^ DRMC rounds up prizes for New Year's baby, Life Choices

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NEW YEAR'S DAY, the first day of the year. In the Gregorian calendar this date occurs twelve days earlier than in the Julian; thus in Russia, Greece, &c., where the latter is still employed, New Year's Day is celebrated on the English 13th of January.

The ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians began their year at the autumnal equinox (Sept. 21) and the Greeks until the 5th century B.C. at the winter solstice (Dec. 21). In 432 B.C. the latter altered their New Year's Day to the 21st of June. The ancient Romans celebrated the beginning of the year on the 21st of December, but Caesar by the adoption of the Julian calendar postponed it to the ist of January. The Jews have always reckoned their civil year from the first day of the month of Tishri (Sept. 6-Oct. 5), but their ecclesiastical year begins at the spring equinox (March 21). The 25th of March was the usual date among most Christian peoples in early medieval days. In Anglo-Saxon England, however, the 25th of December was New Year's Day. At the Norman Conquest owing, it is believed, to the coincidence of his coronation being arranged for that date, William the Conqueror ordered that the year should start on the ist of January. But later England began her year with the rest of Christendom on the 25th of March. The Gregorian calendar (1582), which restored the 1st of January to its position as New Year's Day, was accepted by all Catholic countries at once; by Germany, Denmark and Sweden about 1700, but not until 1751 by England.

The Romans, after the adoption of the Julian calendar, kept the ist of January as a general holiday. Sacrifices were made to Janus; gifts and visits were exchanged, and masquerading and feasting were general. Congratulatory presents were made to the magistrates who entered upon office on this day. The emperors at the new year exacted from their subjects tribute of a pound of gold. This quasi-present was called strena, a term (extended to all New Year's gifts in Rome) traditionally derived from a custom initiated by the legendary King Tatius, to whom branches of vervain gathered in the sacred Grove of Strenua, the goddess of strength, were presented as a good omen on the first day of the year 747 B.C. The imperial strenae later became so excessive that Claudius found it necessary to limit the amount by formal decree.

Participation in the ordinary New Year's Day observances as well as in the Saturnalia of December was from the first discouraged by the Church. Christians were expected to spend the day in quiet meditation, reading of scripture and acts of charity. When about the 5th century the 25th of December had become a fixed festival commemorative of the Nativity, the ist of January assumed a specially sacred character as the octave of Christmas Day and as the anniversary of the Circumcision. As such it still figures in the calendars of the various branches of the Eastern and Western Church, though only as a feast of subordinate importance. The first mention of it in Christian literature as a feast occurs in Canon 17 of a council which met at Tours in 567.

The custom of giving and receiving strenae for luck at the New Year survives in France (where New Year's Day is known as le jour d'etrennes) and the Continent generally. In England its place has been taken by the Christmas-gift. In Scotland, where New Year's Day is more generally observed than Christmas, the custom is still universal. The Persians celebrated the beginning of the year by exchanging presents of eggs. The Druids distributed as New Year's gifts branches of the sacred mistletoe. In Anglo-Saxon and Norman England New Year's gifts were common. According to Matthew Paris, Henry III. followed the Roman precedent by extorting New Year's gifts from his subjects. These in later reigns became voluntary but none the less obligatory on those who wished to stand well with the throne. The custom reached its climax in Tudor times. Wolsey one New Year gave Henry VIII. a gold cup valued at 117, 17s. 6d. in the coinage of that time. An MS. account is preserved of money gifts given to King Henry by all classes of his subjects on New Year's Day 1533. The total reached many thousands. Bishop Latimer, however, handed Henry instead of a purse a New Testament with a leaf doubled down at Hebrews xiii. 4, as apposite to the king's then impending marriage with Anne Boleyn. In Edward VI.'s time, if not earlier, it was usual for the sovereign to give "rewards" to those who presented New Year's gifts. Elizabeth is related to have been most conscientious in this regard. The custom of offering New Year's gifts to the sovereign became obsolete during the Commonwealth and was not revived at the Restoration.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




New Year’s Day

  1. A legal holiday in many countries to welcome the New Year on January 1.

Related terms

New Year's Eve


Simple English

New Year's Day is a holiday in many countries, created to welcome the New Year. In the United States and most other countries in the world, New Year's Day is January 1. The New Year is an event that happens when a culture celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Cultures that measure yearly calendars all have New Year celebrations.


Modern new year celebrations

Date Celebration
January 1 Christian New Year
January 14 Eastern Orthodox New Year (celebrating Jesus' circumcision)
January 21 Chinese New Year (also known as the lunar year, occurs every year on the first lunar month)
January 21 Vietnamese New Year (also known as the Tết Nguyên Đán)
January to March Tibetan New Year
March 14 Sikh Nanakshahi New Year (also called Hola Mohalla)
March 20 or 21 Iranian New Year (also called Norouz, it is the day containing the exact moment of the vernal equinox)
March 21 Bahá'í New Year (also called Naw-Rúz)
April 1 Assyrian New Year (also called Rish Nissanu)
April 13 or 14 Tamil New Year
March or April Telugu New Year
April 13 Punjabi New Year (also called Vaisakhi and celebrates the harvest)
April 13 to 15 Thai New Year (celebrated by throwing water)
April 13 or 14 Sri Lankan New Year (when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries))
April 13 to April 15 Cambobian New Year
April 14 or 15 Bengali New Year (also called Pohela Baisakh)
October or November Gujarati New Year
October or November Marwari New Year
Muharram 1 Islamic New Year

Historical dates for the new year

Roman calendars

The ancient Roman calendar had only ten months and started the year on 1 March, which is still reflected in the names of some months which derive from Latin: September (seventh), October (eighth), November (ninth), December (tenth).

Addition of two new months

Around 713 BC the months of January and February were added to the year, traditionally by the second king, Numa Pompilius, along with the leap month Intercalaris. The year used in dates was the consular year, which began on the day when consuls first entered office — fixed by law at 15 March in 222 BC, but this event was moved to 1 January in 153 BC. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, dropping Intercalaris; however, 1 January continued to be the first day of the new year.

Early Christmas

In Christmas Style dating the new year started on 25 December. This was used in Germany and England until the thirteenth century, and in Spain from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.

In Annunciation Style dating the new year started on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. This was used in many parts of Europe in the Middle Ages, and was the style introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525. Annunciation Style continued to be used in the Kingdom of Great Britain until January 1, 1752, except Scotland which changed to Circumcision Style dating on 1 January 1600. The rest of Great Britain changed to Circumcision Style on the 1 January preceding the conversion in Great Britain from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 3/14 September 1752.

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