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Why does the New Year Start on January 1st?

Festivals | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

The history of New Year’s Day celebration

In the ancient times, people from all over the world had their own calendars. So, different countries celebrated the New Year on different dates.

Where did New Year celebrations start?

  • Celebration of the New Year started in ancient Babylon, (part of Iraq today) some 4000 years ago.
  • The Babylonians did not have a written calendar of their own. Still, they celebrated the New Year on March 23rd.
  • The month of March was considered a good month for New Year celebrations because it was when spring began and new crops were planted.

When did the New Year shift to January 1st?

The Romans celebrated their New Year on March 25 Different emperors kept adding and subtracting days to match the seasons.

In 46 B.C., came Julius Caesar, the Roman General, who synchronised the calendar with the earth’s revolution around the sun, so there were 365 and a quarter days in a year.

He established January 1 as New Year’s Day. To do so, he had to let that year go on for 445 days!

This calendar was named after Julius Caesar, so it was called the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar had an error of 1 day in 128 years.

By the 15th century, it was a week behind the solar calendar. So, in 1582, Pope Gregory VII, Head of the Catholic Church, shifted the Julian calendar a week ahead and named it after himself.

To avoid future errors, the Gregorian calendar only counts century years as leap years if they are divisible by 400.

The Protestant church opposed the Gregorian calendar at first.

As time passed, countries around the world began using it. Now, the New Year is celebrated on January 1 around the world.

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