Many of my most popular blog posts have discussed some of the history or mythology behind holiday traditions, for example, St. Nick, Finding Easter's date, and the Origin of Halloween. For the first week in January, I thought I'd list some facts about New Year's Day and the month of January itself. (Also, my January birthday is on the 13th - see this post for reasons people fear that number).
New Year's Day is the first day of January according to both the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC) and the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582). The difference in these two calendars is a .002% change in the length of the year.
|The Roman god Janus,|
looking both forward and back
The Julian calendar was based on the Roman Calendar, and the name of the month of January is generally attributed to the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, who is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions: into the past as well as the future.
Since the Gregorian calendar is now used, at least in practice, by most countries, New Year's Day is considered the world's most celebrated public holiday.
The ancient belief that the beginning of an event impacted the whole led people to offer good health and well wishes on this first day of a new year, as the long, dark days surrounding the Winter Solstice were being left behind. A prosperous January first with plenty of food and drink would hopefully lead to the same for the entire month and year.
Of course, local traditions abound to mark this day, and a big one in the United States is the making of resolutions. For many people, this involves a commitment to a healthier lifestyle--as a fitness instructor, I see my classes absolutely explode each January! My own personal resolutions, since I'm also a writer, usually involve devoting more time each day to my craft so I can meet deadlines without the stress of a last minute rush.
This year will also bring a release date for my fourth novel, HAUNTED SOULS, so I'm excited about that! Aside from that, a great deal of time in 2016 will be devoted to my older son's college search. It's an overwhelming process! (And where did the time go? Yikes.)
Best wishes, everyone, for a happy, healthy, and meaningful 2016. Happy New Year!
PS - if your resolutions include more reading (one of the best stress-reducers, by the way!) - check out my books. Romance and spooky suspense - something for everyone :)