General - The Tradition Of New Year's Day | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
  • Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

General The Tradition Of New Year's Day


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Early Americans celebrated New Year in March

People once welcomed the New Year in March, the time of the vernal equinox when Mother Earth awoke to spring. Records show the Mesopotamians celebrated the first New Year some 4,000 years ago in mid-March to roughly coincide with the vernal equinox.

Other early cultures chose to celebrate the New Year at other times. The ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, while the Greeks chose the winter solstice as the time to start the year anew.

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the New Year. The calendar (based on the cycles of the moon — the words moon and month are related) had 10 months, with Quintilis, Sextilis along with September through December as the fifth through 10th months. The names of these months reflected the language's numbers: quinque is Latin for five; sextus is six; septem, seven; octo, eight; novem, nine; and decem, 10.

Around 700 B.C., Numa Pontilius, the second king of Rome, added the months of January and February not to the beginning, but to the end of the calendar. The Romans decided to move New Year's Day from March 1 to Jan. 1 because newly elected Roman consuls — the highest officials in the Roman republic — began serving their one-year tenures on Jan. 1, marking the beginning of the civil year.

In 46 B. C. Julius Caesar introduced a revolutionary calendar based not on the moon, but on the sun. This "Julian" calendar decreed that the New Year would occur on Jan. 1, and within the Roman world, Jan. 1 became the consistently observed start of the New Year.

The medieval church, however, considered the celebration of the New Year on Jan. 1 as pagan. In 567 the Council of Tours abolished that day as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated March 1; on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation and the Church's major feast day closest to the vernal equinox; on Easter Sunday; and even on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Finally in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII's "Gregorian" calendar-reform restored Jan. 1 as New Year's Day. Catholic countries like France, Spain and Italy adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately; Protestant countries like Germany and Great Britain followed suit, but only gradually. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire — and their American colonies — still celebrated the New Year in March. After the British adopted the Gregorian calendar, British subjects, including those living in the American colonies, began celebrating New Year's Day on Jan. 1.

The practice of inaugurating the President of the United States in March, for example, reflected this idea. The Constitution of the United States had established March 4 as Inauguration Day, and presidents from George Washington to Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March. (Exceptions to the rule came with the early deaths of sitting presidents.)

It took an amendment to the Constitution — the 20th to be exact — to change, among other things, the inauguration date to January. On Jan. 20, 1937 Roosevelt took the oath of office for the second of four terms. Finally, Roosevelt broke with tradition; on Jan. 20, 1937, he took oath of office for the second of his four terms. In doing so, Roosevelt helped cement Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory's idea that the New Year begins in January.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
So does this mean that from the onset of colonization in the US well nigh into the 20th Century, there was endless quibbling among those who the time to quibble over such things -- about when the New Year should begin?


Aug 18, 2010
World citizen!
Doesn't it sound a lot like the quibbles over the Nanakshahi calendar?! If they can get over that then we can get over our quibbles too surely!!

When I was a little girl I would take great pride in announcing to everyone I met happy new year on April 14th! I figured since Vaisakhi was the start of the Khalsa and Sikhi saroop as we know it then it counted as the beginning of the year for us just as Jews have a separate new year and Hindus count divali as new year etc :meditation:

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

This weeks shabad is from ang 629. Word meanings given-please feel free to correct. My own interpretation will be added in a few days. Please submit your own understanding and how this is being...

SPN on Facebook