The Tradition of the New Year

It seems like the New Year’s traditions that we are all familiar with have been around forever – the dropping of the Times Square ball, getting together with family and shooting fireworks or having a barbeque – but, as is often the case, there is a storied history behind the date and what it has meant throughout all of the new years.

Even the day itself has changed many times. The current calendar system, known as the Gregorian calendar, places the new year on the first of January, but previously the new year has been observed on March 25th, September 1st, and even December 25th, among others. Enacted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, the Gregorian calendar fixed the date on January 1st to remedy some calculation issues with the previous calendar, the Julian calendar. In 1751, January 1st started to become internationally recognized as the first day of the year.

Presently, New Year celebrations are almost universally celebrated on January 1st, even in countries such as China or Pakistan which independently observe the new year. The explosion of Western culture in the 20th century has led to this widespread observance, and some countries like the Czech Republic and Italy even recognize the date as a national holiday.

Americans will most likely be familiar with the ball-dropping ceremony in Times Square, New York and most will agree that this is the definitive celebration of the new year in the States. Nearly every year since 1907, the Times Square Ball has been dropped the 77 feet to the bottom of its flagpole over the course of the minute leading up to the new year. The event has garnered much international attention, and it is estimated that around 1 billion people watch the event every year, 100 million of which live in America.

But no matter when or where the New Year celebration is held, it has always stood for one thing: a new beginning. People make resolutions to make the new year better than the last or to accomplish a long-term goal over the course of the next 365 (or 366!) days, and as the holiday season comes to a close the last chance to visit family becomes yet another time for celebration. From your extended family at Austin Children’s Academy, Happy New Year!

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