Today in this day and age we celebrate New Years on January 1st. Scientifically speaking there is no particular reason or cause on why we are celebrating New Year on that particular date, so I was thinking of how could the people in medieval ages react on the notion of “New Year”. So I did a little research on this and I will give you few facts on how people celebrated New Year in the medieval period.
1. England throughout the years changed their new years date quite a few times, first Anglo-Saxon England celebrated this holiday on the 25th of December. Until, William the conqueror took over and changed the date to the 1st of January so it could coincide with his coronation day, as well as the date of Christ’s circumcision (eight days after Christmas). Years later, England united with the rest of Europe and set their New Year on March 25th. March 25th remained the beginning of the New Year in England until 1752 when they switched back to January 1st.
2. Julius Cesar declared January 1st as the start of a new year in 45BC, starting the tradition. Cesar chose that date because the month of January is named after the Roman God called Janus. According to Roman mythology, Janus is a two-faced God that looks in the future and the past.Then few centuries in the future The Council of Tours abolished January 1st as the beginning of the New Year in 567.
3. Medieval European Countries observed the start of the new year on different. Some of them recognized December 25th (Christmas) as the start of the year, others observed 5th of March and Easter to be the start of the New Year. However, the largest part of Medieval Europeans believed that New Year starts on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation. Most of Medieval Europeans considered this holiday to be pagan and did not celebrate it.
4. It took 561 years for Europe to agree that January 1st was the start of the New Year. Eastern European nations were the first to adopt the date in 1362 and Greece was the last to adopt it in 1923. The Holy Roman empire adopted 1st January as the start of the new year in 1544.
5. In Ireland, people banged on their doors and walls to chase off the evil spirits before New Year’s Eve passed. They also Cleaned their homes until their homes were spotless so they can start the New Year off fresh. It was also a time to remember the dead; candles were lit in the windows, an empty place was set at the table, and the door was left unlocked to welcome the spirits of deceased family members who had passed on that year.