→How the Modern New Year's Eve Celebrations Evolved
The ancient Roman calendar originally only had ten months, but by 8th century BCE the early Roman king Numa Pontilius added the months that became January and February in our calendar. Originally, the Roman New Year's Day was in March, similar to ancient Mesopotamia in using the vernal equinox to mark the New Year. However, by 45 BCE the Romans decided to reform their civil calendar, under Julius Caesar, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1st. This was initially so it would correspond to the beginning of the tenure for the two Roman consuls, who held the highest office in Roman state. The Roman tradition after the Julian reforms included giving sacrifices to god Janus, with January named after him, giving gifts to others, and even decorating homes with laurel. The Roman, of course, loved to have raucous parties and many events often involved heavy wine drinking, with lavish parties given by wealthy Romans in their homes. However, by the time Christianity was widely adopted in Europe in the early Medieval period, traditions of celebrating New Year with parties and gifts were disregarded, as they were seen as pagan and associated with the ancient gods. New Year, eventually, was seen not as a holiday but was simply acknowledged without any great celebration. In fact, in some European countries New Year began to be associated with Christmas, on December 25th, as that day gained more celebratory importance. New Year's day was even in dispute, as the Julian Calendar began to create problems as to what day the calendar was actually on. Reforms were needed to the Julian Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar became adopted. Not all countries adopted this in Europe, particularly as the Protestant and Catholic schism that occurred in the 16th century prevented widespread acceptance of the calendar. Eventually, and by the 18th century, most countries in Western Europe and North and South America adopted January 1st in the Gregorian Calendar as the official New Year's Day.
How the Modern New Year's Eve Celebrations Evolved==
In the 19th century, specifically in 1878 in Britain, St Paul’s Cathedral was installed with new bells, where crowds gathered on New Year's Eve and celebrated the ringing of the bells. Over time, this tradition became more of an interest to the public, as the bells were rung on New Year's Eve. Over time, as people gathered, often heavy drinking was associated with such gatherings and many, once again, began to object to such overt acts of celebration. Elsewhere, in Scotland and also those who came from Scotland in the United States, the old Scottish poem 'Auld Lang Syne', which has the well-known lyrics 'should old acquaintance be forgot', developed from a well known Scottish poem in the 18th century and was transcribed by Robert Burns, began to be associated with New Year's Day by the mid-19th century. People began to gather on New Year's Eve with friends and family and sing the song to remember others and look forward towards meeting in the future. This tradition was carried out by those with Scottish ancestry but in the United States it began to be associated with New Year's Eve celebrations after it was played on the radio on December 31st, 1929 for the first time. Traditions in the United States also emerged from the <i>New York Times</i> beginning a pattern of holding parties in 1904 for staff in what was known as Longacre Square (renamed Times Square). These parties became well known events held for staff on New Year's Eve and its popularity spread. In 1907, when the city of New York banned fireworks, an electrician devised the idea of a 700 pound illuminated ball to drop. This led to that tradition being established. Since that time, New York became inspirational to how New Years parties and events developed throughout the country. Many towns later adopted similar traditions or evolved them from how New York held its New Year's Eve parties in the early 20th century. Other traditions also evolved with celebratory meals on New Year's Day. Pork, for instance, became a popular food for many European descendants because it was seen a prosperous food and was intended to symbolize prosperity in the New Year.
Throughout the world, there are many different New Year's Eve or Day celebrations, including different days depending on which calendar is followed. Calendars in the Middle East are still somewhat influenced by the ancient cultures there, with the holiday Nowruz celebrating the New Year in the March vernal equinox on the 20th/21st of March in places such as Iran and Kurdish regions. Diwali is a Hindu holiday celebrated in mid-October to mid-November and celebrates victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This is why commonly the celebration includes fireworks today. For the Chinese New Year, it traditionally begins between 21 January and 20 February depending on the new moon during that time. Similar to more ancient New Year traditions, it was a time to celebrate different gods to bring good luck in the harvest and year, while the dead ancestors were also celebrated and often prayed for.