Happy New Year from the Jefferson County Post

It’s finally here: 2018 has arrived! New Years is almost always eagerly awaited, with people making all sorts of resolutions for the coming months. What started this “new year, new me” craze?

Celebrations of the New Year can be traced back some 4,000 years to Babylonian culture. Their New Year began with the first new moon following the vernal equinox – a day in late March with equal sunlight and moonlight. They marked the occasion with a massive religious celebration called Akite (derived from the Sumerian word for barley) which was cut in spring.

The festival would last eleven days for the Babylonians. This also served as a celebration of the Babylonian gods and had political implications for the culture. The festival would serve as the crowning of a new king or the fresh mandate of an existing ruler. These types of festivals were nothing new as through the centuries multiple cultures have typically marked their new near with an agricultural or astronomical event.

The dates of most these celebrations varied from culture to culture. For example, in Egypt the New Year came with the yearly flooding of the Nile. The circumstances for January 1st being the date of the New Year gets its accreditation from the Romans.

Early Roman calendars consisted of 10 months and 304 days, beginning with the vernal equinox. The calendar was supposedly created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the 8th century BC. Later emperors would add months and other changes to the calendar, but eventually it would fall out of sync with the sun. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by making his own calendar. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the one we use today. In his new calendar, Caesar would move the New Year from March 1st to January 1st. This was accepted by a majority of his subjects.

In the Middle Ages, church leaders wanted to do away with anything that was tied with Roman or pagan traditions or culture. During this purge, the Julian calendar was out of fashion for a time and the date of the New Year would wander from year to year. The problem was officially solved in 1582, when Pope Gregory the Eighth reestablished January 1st as the date of the New Year with his own Gregorian calendar, which is the one that we use today.

Since the settlement of the New Year date, here in the United States, billions have taken the holiday to establish their own traditions. All around the world different cultures use their own food and traditions to bring luck into the New Year. And who can forget the New Year’s resolutions? People set goals for an ideal year, such as getting in shape or expanding a business. The discipline showed in fulfilling these resolutions varies, but New Years is still a time when the full potential of a year is ahead of us.

Here in East Tennessee, of course, we have the tradition of black eyed peas, hog jaw, and greens for luck in the coming year. However you celebrate it, make 2018 your best year yet. The Jefferson County Post wants to wish all our readers a blessed year of happiness and success. Happy New Year from all of us at the Jefferson County Post!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

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