New Year’s Day through the Ages

Imagine if it was 1582!

As with many of the holidays, a lot of our fans are curious as to how people treated these specific days during the Medieval and Renaissance time periods. Since the most relevant holiday is the start of the New Year, we thought we would give a brief history and overview of what things were like during the era we all know and love.

As with most of our traditions, the origin of the celebration of the first of the year came with the Romans. The Roman calender initially only included ten months, with the start of the year coming on March 1st. This date was chosen due to its proximity to the vernal equinox.

In the year 700 B.C., the Roman King Numa Pontilius included January and February to the calendar. Eventually, in 153 B.C. January 1st became the new start of the year. This change was made because it was regarded as the start of the civil terms of elected officials within the Roman political system. Each January 1st would mark the election of the two new Consuls, which were the high public official the Roman Republic.

During the Middle Ages, many religious organizations abolished the 1st of January as start of the year as it was considered to be pagan. Many religious officials that would wear Medieval Priest Robes called for Christian communities to observe the first of the year to be either the birth of Jesus, December 25th, or the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th. The official repeal of January 1st was in 567 due to the Council of Tours.

Finally, in 1582, the calendar year was reformed via the Gregorian calendar. This called for the first of the year to once again coincide with the beginning of January. This became the popular and widely accepted custom throughout the Catholic world. This change was more of a gradual process for Protestant communities, with a prime example being the British Empire. Up until the year 1752, England and all of their colonies, which included America, still recognized March as being the start of the New Year.

That is a brief overview of the history of the holiday. We hope this help answered some of the questions you may have had. We also hope that for this year, you are able to achieve your New Year’s Resolution.

Tell Us What You Think

If you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!