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New Year's Day

This article is about January 1st in the Gregorian calendar. For all other New Year celebrations, see New Year.

New Year's Day is the first day of the year, in the Gregorian calendar. In modern times, it is January 1. In most countries, it is a holiday. It is still celebrated as a holy day on January 14 by those who still follow the Julian calendar such as followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches known as Old Calendarists.


Modern Practices

January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of the passing year, especially on radio, television, and in newspapers, which usually starts right after Christmas Day. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the past year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts , and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1st.

This day is traditionally a religious feast , but since the 1900s, has become an occasion for celebration on the night between December 31 and January 1, called New Year's Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight. Depending on the country, individuals may be allowed to burn fireworks, even if it is forbidden the rest of the year.

It is also an occasion to make New Year resolutions, which they hope to fulfill in the coming Year; the most popular ones in the western world include to stop tobacco smoking or drinking, or to lose weight or get physically fit.

In most counties that follow the Gregorian calendar, including the United States, United Kingdom and Japan (for a very brief list), New Year's Day is a public holiday. For many of those countries, if January 1st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the Monday will be a public holiday.


Among the 7th century druidic pagans of Flanders, it was the custom to exchange gifts at New Year's, a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings, "[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Years' gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion Ouen.

In the Middle Ages, most European countries used the Julian calendar, but a variety of dates were used as the first day of the year; see New Year for details. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar led eventually to the adoption of 1 January as New Year's Day in all countries using that calendar.

Specific, high-profile or common celebrations

Images Associated with New Year's Day

In the United States, cultural images include an old Father Time with a sash proclaiming the Old Year leaving as an infant with a sash proclaiming the New Year enters.

See also

Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:23:15
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12