Three Holidays in One: History of New Year’s

Andre Ayala

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It wasn’t until about 4,000 years ago that humans started celebrating New Year’s.  For some of us, this holiday is just a change in date we have to get used to putting on our paper, but for others it’s a fresh start.

It was said the ancient Babylonians were one of the first people to celebrate the New Year. While we celebrate the New Year in January, the Babylonians celebrated in March to honor the new plant cropping season.  Unlike the American tradition of celebrating for one night, they had a festival that lasted 12 days. One tradition we have kept from this time is making New Year’s resolutions. Some of us tell ourselves we are going to start hitting the gym and lose that summer weight, while the Babylonians promised their gods they would pay off any debts and return any borrowed objects.

Rome, who also practiced the coming of the New Year, made a significant change to the date of the celebration. Their emperor Julius Caesar moved the New Year to January 1st.

As for the Christians, they celebrated New Year’s like us by reflecting on the past year and looking forward toward the new. While Americans celebrate New Year’s by throwing small house parties, nations across the ocean do it a lot bigger and better.

China has been celebrating New Year’s for about 3,800 years, and their celebrations are always huge. Their celebration is so important that the people are given 7 days off of work, so they are able to prepare for all the festivities. Preparation starts off by covering their streets with red decorations in the belief that the color red signifies success for their future. During this time, families form stronger bonds with each other as they decorate and cook the most important meal of the year.

In China, the New Year’s meal is the most important meal as it has the same significance that Thanksgiving does to Americans. Chinese New Year’s is like three U.S. holidays in one: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July. With all the fireworks and firecrackers being set off in streets into the first minute of the New Year, one might believe it is the 4th of July. Gifts and sometimes cash along with a short letter of appreciation are handed to each other in red envelopes. This is one of the biggest events of the year, and they never disappoint.

So as the New Year arrives, how will you celebrate it? When will you celebrate? How long will the celebration be? Will you throw a huge party? What is your New Year’s resolution? You’d better plan quickly because it’s right around the corner, unless you’re a Babylonian, of course.

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