Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! New Years History + Traditions

Welcome January!  Although often bitterly cold here in the Northeast, January is still one of my favorite months, as it's both a new beginning and my birthday month.  While 2014 wasn't entirely terrible, both my kids had serious sports-related injuries (a badly broken leg for my older son in Feb., and a badly broken right thumb for my younger son right before the start of school.  Yes, he's right-handed.  Both breaks required surgery, and in the case of my son's leg, there was quite a bit of rehab and many, many visits to Children's Hospital), so, we're ready to put last year behind us.

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.

Aside from goals related to my two jobs, though, I think my most important resolution this year will be to try harder to live in the moment.  As I cleaned out closets this Christmas break--an attempt to start the new year with a more organized environment--I stumbled across a very old video recorder.  So old that it involved tiny cassette tapes.  I powered up the camera and hit play, and suddenly my first born child appeared, not quite two years old, toddling across the screen in overalls.  I watched him look for Easter eggs, attempt his first trip down a slide, try to rake leaves, and wrestle with the new kitten, who is now a 16-year-old cat.  The same age, in fact, as my oldest son is now.

The soccer net we built in the
backyard so the boys
could practice.  Otis enjoys
it as well :)
Where did that time go?  Can my kid really be two years away from leaving home?  So, while he probably won't be thrilled about the idea of spending more time with me, I'm planning on making sure I don't miss one soccer game, track meet, or awards assembly.

Best wishes, everyone, for a happy, healthy, and meaningful 2015.  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 suspense - something for everyone :)


  1. I'm sorry that your son's suffered breaks and that your oldest needed surgery and rehab.

    It's interesting to know what new year's day was like during ancient times.

    I hope your 2015 proves to be full of happiness, good health, and much success for you and your family. Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you, Chrys - Happy New Year to you too!