The gifts have been exchanged, the treats are all gone, we’re all a little fuller in the midsection, and the excitement of the holidays has worn off. There’s always a bit of sadness associated with the end of this season, not to mention confusion.
Let’s face it–something is really messed up about New Year’s! Considering its origins, it’s perfectly understandable. It all begins with a guy named Janus, the Roman God of doors and gates (Why they needed a God for that is beyond me!). Janus had two faces–one facing forward and one facing backward. Caesar, who was the ruler at the time, felt that that the start of a new year was a “door” to the future. So naturally, he named a new month “January” after Janus and January 1 was officially declared as “New Year’s Day.” So far so good, right? Well, here’s where it gets a little weird.
To celebrate this occasion, Caesar ordered a violent execution. The first Jewish-Roman War was the result. New Year’s day celebrations continued through the years with what evolved into drunken orgies. Some believed these actions were symbolic of the chaotic world before the creation of the cosmos. (Don’t ask me, I’m just the writer!).
This continued for about 500 years until someone had the idea that celebrations of this sort were not exactly moral. So they were dropped. But here’s the confusing part: the date of the New Year was changed. Whether this was an effort to disassociate this day with previous “celebrations” or just start something new is anyone’s guess.
For a while, December 25th was the new “New Year.” But then it was March 1 and later March 25 in conjunction with the Vernal Equinox or what we now know as Easter. Around 1725 or so it was changed back to January 1. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, get this: a year with 12 months doesn’t really work.
The months of September through December are currently months 9-12. But the root word of September is “Septem” which is latin for “Seven.” “Octo” is Eight, and so on. In the days before Caesar, it was a ten-month calendar year but in 46 B.C. that all changed.
Confusion and sadness doesn’t even begin to describe this mess of a day we call New Year’s, now with a new tradition of making resolutions. (Let’s not even get started on that one!). For now, we’ll wrap this up by saying “Happy New Year” to you…or should we say “Happy Easter”? Who really knows at this point!