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How Was New Year Celebrated in the Past

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In this day and age, we celebrate New Years on January 1st.

Here are a few facts on how people celebrated the New Year in the medieval period.

History of England celebrating New Years

England throughout the years changed their New year’s date quite a few times.

First Anglo-Saxon England celebrated this holiday on the 25th of December.

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 25 remained the beginning of the New Year in England until 1752 when they switched back to January 1st.

Roman New Years

Julius Ceasar declared January 1st as the start of a new year in 45BC, starting the tradition of 1 January being the start of the new year.

Ceasar 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.

The Council of Tours abolished January 1st as the beginning of the New Year in 567.

Medieval Europe and New Years Celebrations

Some Medieval European countries observed December 25th as the start of the year, whilst others observed 5th of March and Easter to be the start of the New Year.

However, the largest part of Medieval Europeans believed that the New Year starts on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation.

Most Medieval Europeans considered this holiday to be pagan and did not celebrate it.

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 the 1st January as the start of the new year in  1544.

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