New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome. With most countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, New Year's Day is the closest thing to being the world's only truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar currently 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.
The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st January 42 BC in honour of his life and his institution of the new rationalised calendar. The month originally owes its name to the deity Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. This suggests that New Year's celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. 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. 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] 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 [Companion? Hmmm...].
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 March 25, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 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 when Christ was believed to be born. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calendar.
Traditional and modern celebrations and customs
January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including on radio, television and in newspapers, which starts in early December in countries around the world. Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.
This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the1900s has also become an occasion to celebrate the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are fireworks at midnight at the moment the new year arrives; watchnight services are also still observed by many.
- 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.
- On New Year's Day, people in certain countries gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. In Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands this is very popular. 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 the United Kingdom there are many celebrations across the towns and cities, particularly in Scotland.
- In London, England, thousands gather along the Embankment on the River Thames to watch the fireworks around the London Eye.
- 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 New Year's Eve. The famous street party in Princes Street in Edinburgh is one example.
- In Wales, Calennig is celebrated, with celebrations attracting thousands of people in the capital, Cardiff.
- In Greece and Cyprus, 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" follows.
- In Russia and the other 14 former republics of the Soviet Union, the celebration of Old New Year or Novi God is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with a lavish dinner tables and gifts. In Moscow, the president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. The Kremlin's landmark Spassky Clock Tower chimes in the new year and then the anthem starts. It is customary to make a wish while the Clock chimes, so you are anxious to do it in time!
- In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
- In the United States, it is traditional to spend this occasion together with loved ones. A toast is made to the new year, with kisses, fireworks and parties among the customs. It is popular to make a New Year's resolution, although that is optional. In the country's most famous New Year celebration 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 p.m., with a countdown from :10 seconds until :01, when it reaches the bottom of its tower. The arrival of the new year is announced at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, music and a live celebration that is broadcast worldwide.
- In France, people are concerned about the weather that day. They regard the weather as the prediction of that year: wind blowing east, fruit will yield; wind blowing west, fish and livestock will be bumper; wind blowing south, there will be good weather all year round and wind blowing north, there will be crop failure. People like to toast the new year and drink till January 3. They think that they can't gain a beautiful year if they don't drink up all the wine left last year.
New Year's Day
The celebrations held world-wide on January 1 as part of New Year's Day commonly include the following:
- American football: In the United States, January 1 is the traditional date for many post-season college football bowl games, which are usually accompanied by parades and other activities to celebrate the events.
- Football (Soccer): In Europe, Association Football, where a Full Fixture program is usually played throughout the Premier League and the rest of the League/Non League system in England.
- Ice hockey, most famously the Winter Classic in North America, a National Hockey League game that is played outdoors.
- Entertainment, usually enjoyed from the comfort of home.
- Family time
- Traditional meals
- Church services
- An annual dip in ice-cold water by hearty individuals, most famously by members of the Polar Bear Club.
New Year's babies
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.
In modern time and world-wide, the association of parenthood is with a baby's arrival, with New Year's Eve a father and mother together presenting their newborn child as the new year arrives and is celebrated.
People born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center 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.
Other celebrations on January 1
Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1). The Catholic Church, trying to distance itself from Judaism, now calls this holy day of obligation the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Comrades, as I said last week, let's all have a safe New Year's Eve/Day. If you have any more than one or two drinks in a one or two hour period, you are probably impaired, driving-wise. Use designated drivers, or the AAA's free ride home program. I don't want to be a wet blanket, but a DUI or an accident are really lousy ways to start off the New Year. Remember, as National Socialists, you and you alone are responsible for your own actions.
If you're going to a party only a block or two away, let's not be lazy. If you walk, you can't get a DUI. Sure, you could get busted for walking down the sidewalk drunk, but that's a slap on the wrist compared to what could happen if you drive in that condition.
Have a safe and happy New Year's celebration.