Over 2,000 years ago, in 46 B.C, Caesar declared January 1st as the first day of the calendar and the date on which the New Year would be celebrated.
He decided that the whole month of January, and especially January 1st, should be dedicated to the god Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, passages, and endings.
God Janus was often depicted with two faces, one facing forward and one facing backward.
For Caesar, the calendar was a tool and a political weapon. As the Roman armies conquered new lands, the Empire often gave the newly conquered peoples freedom to maintain certain religious and social customs. But after creating the new calendar, Caesar imposed it on everyone to remind all citizens of Caesar’s Roman authority and power.
New Year traditions around the world
In many countries around the world, the holiday begins on the evening of December 31 (New Year’s Eve) and ends on the morning of January 1.
In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, for good luck and well-being.
In many countries, coin-shaped vegetable slices are placed on the table. It is believed that this habit brings financial luck.
In Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries, pork dishes are a must on the table, as pork is progress and prosperity.
In the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece, ring-shaped cakes and pretzels are a must on the table, symbolizing the end of the year.
In Sweden and Norway, a rice pudding is prepared with an almond hidden inside. The one who finds the almond and eats it is said to be lucky all year round. In Greece, there is a similar tradition, a gold or silver coin is baked into a cake, called a vasilopita. The one who finds the coin inside is said to be the luckiest.
Fireworks, firecrackers, music, the crackling of the asphalt whip are meant to drive away evil spirits and bring joy to the whole world.
The decision-making habit seems to be derived from the ancient Babylonians who made promises to the gods in order to win their favor.
In Romania, there are many traditions on the occasion of the new year. It is said to bring good luck to eat fish at the New Year’s dinner, to “slip like fish in the new year.”
Other habits that bring prosperity are to have money on you at midnight, not to throw garbage on January 1, to wear red, to break a glass of white glass, to pour a box of matches or to sneeze.
It is said that what you do on January 1st you will do all year round, so it is not good to cry, be angry or quarrel.
So do everything you want to do today in the year that has just begun, be happy, relax, stay with your family, travel, smile, and enjoy those around you and all that life has to offer.
Happy New Year!