The new year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increases by one.
Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner and the first day of January is often marked as a national holiday.
In the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar system, New Year occurs on Jan. 1 (New Year's Day). This was also the case both in the old Roman calendar (at least after about 713 BCE) and in the Julian calendar that succeeded it.
Other calendars have been used historically in different parts of the world; some calendars count years numerically, while others do not.
During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year's Day variously, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, among them: March 1, March 25, Easter, Sept. 1 and Dec. 25. Beginning in 1582, the adoptions of the Gregorian calendar and changes to the Old Style and New Style dates meant the various local dates for New Year's Day changed to using one fixed date, Jan. 1.
The widespread official adoption of the Gregorian calendar and marking Jan. 1 as the beginning of a new year is almost global now. Regional or local use of other calendars continues, along with the cultural and religious practices that accompany them. In Latin America, various native cultures continue the observation of traditions according to their own calendars. Israel, China, India and other countries, continue to celebrate New Year on different dates.
The most common dates of modern New Year's celebrations are listed below, ordered and grouped by their alignment relative to the Gregorian calendar.
history of new year
In 45 B.C., New Year’s Day is celebrated on January 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar takes effect.
Soon after becoming Roman dictator, Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar was in dire need of reform. Introduced around the seventh century B.C., the Roman calendar attempted to follow the lunar cycle but frequently fell out of phase with the seasons and had to be corrected. In addition, the pontifices, the Roman body charged with overseeing the calendar, often abused its authority by adding days to extend political terms or interfere with elections.
In designing his new calendar, Caesar enlisted the aid of Sosigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer, who advised him to do away with the lunar cycle entirely and follow the solar year, as did the Egyptians. The year was calculated to be 365 and 1/4 days, and Caesar added 67 days to 45 B.C., making 46 B.C. begin on January 1, rather than in March. He also decreed that every four years a day be added to February, thus theoretically keeping his calendar from falling out of step. Shortly before his assassination in 44 B.C., he changed the name of the month Quintilis to Julius (July) after himself. Later, the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) after his successor.
Celebration of New Year’s Day in January fell out of practice during the Middle Ages, and even those who strictly adhered to the Julian calendar did not observe the New Year exactly on January 1. The reason for the latter was that Caesar and Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value for the solar year as 365.242199 days, not 365.25 days. Thus, an 11-minute-a-year error added seven days by the year 1000, and 10 days by the mid-15th century.
The Roman church became aware of this problem, and in the 1570s Pope Gregory XIII commissioned Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a new calendar. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was implemented, omitting 10 days for that year and establishing the new rule that only one of every four centennial years should be a leap year. Since then, people around the world have gathered en masse on January 1 to celebrate the precise arrival of the New Year.