→New Year's Day Today
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.
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