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Many people do not know that January 1 was not always New Years.

If we look back in history, New Years was a very popular celebration in many cultures but it was based on their calendar system and on the life of common people.

For example, the Babylonians began commemorating New Years some 4,000 years ago. They had a lunar calendar and New Years began when the first crescent moon appeared after Spring Equinox. Instead of one day, they partied for eleven!
Romans were similarly enthusiastic about New Years, typically observing it in March. That continued until Julius Caesar came to power and set aside January 1 to be the beginning of the year.

The rather festive spirit of New Years made it somewhat of a controversial holiday.

As Catholicism grew, their distain toward New Years partying increased. That opposition continued into the Middle Ages and beyond, feeling this was a much too secular holiday. Nonetheless, people around the world continued to celebrate in unique ways.

Those of you who make resolutions, for example, might want to know that the Bablyonians also began that custom. According to historians, one of the most common resolutions was remembering to give back farm tools borrowed from neighbors. Meanwhile, we can thin about returning items we borrowed months ago too!

In visual symbolism, the image of a baby representing New Years owes its origins to Greece as early as 600 BCE. This was actually a portrait of the God Dionysus, who oversaw fertility and wine. The newborn God welcomed the re-birth of earth’s providence.

For readers wanting to try a little New Year’s superstitions, the best way to insure your luck is to have a friend with a particularly propitious name stop by as your first visitor on New Year’s Day.

If this person has dark hair, that’s even better serendipity. This custom is called First Footing and it was quite popular throughout Europe. Alternatively, foodies might look to edibles that improve our fortune including anything circular (doughnuts), black-eyed peas, cabbage and ham, sauerkraut and pork, smoked fish among others.
Happy New Year.


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