New year is usually celebrated on the first of January; it is the time when the pages of calendar is overturned and the year increments by one. It marks the end of the previous year and the start of the new year. New Year is celebrated by almost the entire world.
Different countries follow different calendars and their New year hence falls on different days but the countries following the Gregorian calendar celebrate it on the first of January. It is often marked as a national holiday. The Gregorian calendar is now a widely used calendar. However, in the Julian as well as the Roman calendar, January 1st was usually the beginning of the new year.
Some other calendars have also been developed by different civilizations; some calendars read the patterns of moon also known as Lunar calendar while some numerically assign the years while some do not. The Middle ages saw the new year date being shifted by various authorities based on their territorial location.
However, after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar after about 1582, the New year date was unanimously chosen to be 1st January. However, we have records today that suggest that a festival like new year was celebrated for the first time in around 153 B.C. Even the month of January did not come into existence until the second King of Rome, Numa Pontus, provided for the incorporation of the months of January and February into the calendar.
However, during the middle ages, the religious institutions as well as the authorities had denounced new year celebrations calling it pagan and gainst Christianity. Subsequently, the date of January 1st was abolished and the New year began to be celebrated as December 25th with the birth of Christ.
Many peculiar traditions around the globe have been rampant through the ages and are still followed with utmost zeal and enthusiasm. These traditions have no scientific backing behind them but are done to follow the precedent that has been followed for ages. To list, a few are:
- Denmark has a strange custom of collecting all their unutilized cutlery and banging them and breaking them at the doors of their friends and relatives. This, they believe marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
- Burning of scarecrows in Ecuador is done at the end of each year to bring good luck.
- Spaniards follow the practice of eating twelve grapes altogether during midnight which is supposed to bring good luck.
- Round objects including foods and articles are used on New year in Philippines to exemplify and symbolize coins which are believed to be prosperous.
- Dropping ice cream in Switzerland is another such weird customs and is done at the end of each year.
- Coin tossing in Romania is also one of the many such customs that people follow.
- Bolivia has a tradition of baking confectionary with coins inside which they believe, brings good luck for the remaining New Year.
- In Japan, there is a strange tradition of ringing all their bells 108 times and is considered an act of goodwill that would usher prosperity.
New Year Resolutions
Today the first thing that the thought of New Year brings to our mind is New Year resolutions. We take up on various promises and goals that we will strive to achieve.
Many of us also take oaths to put an end to our bad habit. However, according to historical records, the Babylonians were supposedly one of the first human civilizations who began the custom of taking up a resolution on New year, about four thousand years ago.
A magnificent gala ensued for the New year celebrations for about twelve days. This festival was known as Akitu and a new King was crowned that day.
In the later periods however, the practice of assigning a new year resolution was a religious one later, as practiced by the Christians as a means of considering our past mistakes made in the previous and to take vows to better ourselves.
But later, the practice extended beyond religious beliefs and geographical boundaries and is a widely practiced custom today. It has become a secular and good way of helping people be determined about their goals and achieve them.
Miscreants who tarnish the celebration
The New Year was meant to be a celebration of merry and joy for the people. However, some people have misinterpreted it as an excuse for promoting alcoholism and indecent behavior. Many people, especially the younger adults as well as teenagers indulge in excessive drinking that not only disrupts the festivities and goodwill of themselves but also affects the well being of others around them.
The police files are replete with cases of drunken driving, accidents and subsequent deaths. Shameful acts of gender shaming, physical torture and sexual assaults are also high during the New Year ’s Eve. The Government has taken steps though in an effort to minimize these problems by announcing ‘dry days’ in and around the time of the New Year.
However, these rules are just an eyewash as the restaurants and bars are still allowed to sell alcoholic drinks and beverages which pose a serious threat to both life and property. Several of the so called elitist parties become drug heavens where recreational drugs are distributed indiscriminately poisoning the youth and an entire generation that has not yet lived it’s worth in the world.
New year is a time to forget the old and look forward to the future, and start everything afresh, that are yet to come and bring prosperity. All our failures should be forgotten and learnt from. No one should consider themselves losers. The entire new year will be left for them to conquer their shortcomings and master their skills.
New Year should motivate us to dispose of our old bad habits and pick up new good ones so that we could all march in unison taking the high road to prosperity and leading this great human civilization to the pinnacle of its existence.