Celebrating the New Year

One of the bigger questions regarding man’s modern-day origins has to do with celebrating the New Year. Think about it: if you were going to celebrate the new year wouldn’t it make sense to link this big event to something worthwhile? Take for example Spring. Springtime represents a season of re-birth, fertility, flowers blooming and new babies. Not necessarily in that order. January 1st on the other hand has no religious bearing of any kind that I know of. No astronomical or agricultural importance whatsoever.

Now would you believe the celebration of the New Year was first recognized in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago?
The Babylonians – originators of the New Year and the New Years Eve holiday took part in a celebration that lasted almost 2 weeks. These folks knew how to party. I don’t care how much fun you had during New Years Eve with Dick Clark or Bob Barker in Times Square, it’s nothing compared to the debauchery undertook by the Babylonians. Bless ’em all.

The Romans picked up where the Babylonians left off. They continued to recognize New Years and New Years Eve, but they celebrated in late March for Pete’s sake. The Romans were pretty inventive, but creating a calendar that served a purpose was not one of their strong points. Their calendars were continually being messed up by whatever emperor happened to be in power at the time. The only thing the Romans got right was celebrating the New Year and News Years Eve. Like their buddies the Babylonians, the Romans were big on days-without-end -partying mixed with orgies and drinking. Makes me wonder if they even noticed Rome was burning to the ground.

Leave it to Julius Caesar to finally create a calendar in his name. After conferring with the Senate, Caesar created the “Julian Calendar” and it recognized January 1st as the beginning of the New Year. And it was pretty much widely excepted until the Church stepped in and condemned it. In fact, during the Middle Ages, the Church pretty much remained opposed to celebrating New Years altogether! New Years Eve holidays are actually a pretty recent phenomenon for Westerners, who have only celebrated the occasion for about 400 years now. We sure didn’t know what we were missing out on that’s for sure.

Well fast-forward a few millennium and we’ve got out own New years Eve traditions to recognize. Modern society falls a bit short of the Roman’s drinking and orgies, but Westerners can – on the other hand – boast about their New Year’s resolution. But go figure, even that tradition dates back to the early Babylonians, which really does prove that there is no such thing as an original idea. Typical New Years resolutions might be to go to the gym, or lose weight or stop smoking. or all three.

These days traveling seems to be the “next big thing” during the New Years holiday. In Italy at least, school doesn’t resume until January 8th, so it’s easy to find “Last-minute” travel offers on flights and hotels somewhere in Europe. Plus, after Christmas and new years eve, what’s left? Of course you can find a good travel deal to somewhere.

We’ve come a long way since the Babylonians and Romans when it comes to the celebration of the New Year and New Years Eve. So many traditions have come to pass for each region, each country and each family, that you would be hard-pressed not to have a good time come December 31st.

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