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New Year’s Day: It Wasn’t Always January 1

Several dates have been used throughout history around the world.

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It may seem obvious that January 1 should be the first day of the new year, but how about January 14, February 5, April 13, August 30, September 29, and March 7? These dates may appear to have nothing in common, but each one marks the beginning of a new year somewhere around the world.

Julius Caesar, an ancient Roman emperor, created his own calendar, the Julian Calendar, which placed the New Year on January 1. 

During the Middle Ages, the date of the New Year changed according to region and religious practice. In some areas, it was celebrated on March 25, Lady Day, which celebrated the Virgin Mary. In other places across Europe, the New Year was on December 25 as a joint holiday with Christmas. Easter was another common New Year date.

The New Gregorian Calendar

Today, the U.S. uses the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was invented to replace the Julian calendar in 1582. January 1 was again named the beginning of the New Year. The Gregorian calendar starts at year 0, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ. This is because it was developed by the Catholic Church.

Gregorian calendar

Culture and religion are important parts of marking the passage of time. Russia finally adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918, following the Soviet Revolution. Orthodox churches still use the Julian calendar – which is now 13 days removed from the Gregorian calendar. Different societies across the world continue to observe their own systems, if only for the sake of tradition.

So, here’s wishing a Happy New Year to all – but keep in mind that a new stage in life can begin at any time you choose, not just on January 1.

Laura Valkovic

Socio-political Correspondent at and Managing Editor of Eclectic in interests and political philosophies, Laura came to journalism after years of working as an educator. Her background as a historian has informed her research and writing styles, as well as her approach to current affairs. Born and raised in Australia, Laura currently resides in Great Britain.

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