New Years Day, also called simply New Years or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, other global New Years Day traditions include making New Years resolutions and calling ones friends and family. Mesopotamia instituted the concept of celebrating the new year in 2000 BC, celebrated new year around the time of the vernal equinox, the early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March and that the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were positioned as the seventh through tenth months. Roman legend usually credited their second king Numa with the establishment of the months of January and February and these were first placed at the end of the year, but at some point came to be considered the first two months instead. The January Kalends came to be celebrated as the new year at some point after it became the day for the new consuls in 153 BC. Romans had long dated their years by these consulships, rather than sequentially, still, private and religious celebrations around the March new year continued for some time and there is no consensus on the question of the timing for January 1s new status. Once it became the new year, however, it became a time for family gatherings, in AD567, the Council of Tours formally abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. These days were also astronomically and astrologically significant since, at the time of the Julian reform, March 25 had been understood as the spring equinox and December 25 as the winter solstice. Medieval calendars nonetheless often continued to display the months running from January to December, among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts on the first day of the new year. This custom was deplored by Saint Eligius, who warned the Flemish and Dutch, make vetulas, little deer or iotticos or set tables at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks. Because of the leap year error in the Julian calendar, the date of Easter had drifted backward since the First Council of Nicaea decided the computation of the date of Easter in 325, by the sixteenth century, the drift from the observed equinox had become unacceptable. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII declared the Gregorian calendar widely used today, the Gregorian calendar reform also restored January 1 as New Years Day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752, until then, the British Empire – and its American colonies – still celebrated the new year on 25 March. Most nations of Western Europe officially adopted 1 January as New Years Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian Calendar, in Tudor England, New Years Day, along with Christmas Day and Twelfth Night, was celebrated as one of three main festivities among the twelve days of Christmastide. There, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, Pope Gregory acknowledged 1 January as the beginning of the new year according to his reform of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar
Fireworks in Mexico City at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 2013
Fireworks in London on New Year's Day at the stroke of midnight.