5 Medieval Facts of New Year’s

1.  January 1st was not considered a new year until recently. Most medievals celebrated New Year’s in mid-March, when melting snow followed by sprouting greenery signaled the awakening of new life.

new-year-clock

2.  The first medievals to celebrate the New Year on January 1st were the Romans in 153 B.C. January, as a month, did not even exist until Julius Caesar created a new calendar based on the sun instead of the moon.

In order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, he extended the year to 355 days. It was this new ‘Julian’ calendar that included the months of January and February, and heralded the celebration of the New Year in January.

3.  Though sources are inconsistent due to some debate around exact dates and names, this is basically how the first ancient Roman calendar looked:

March – symbolic of Mars, the Roman god of war. March was the beginning of the year, and the time to resume any wars that had been halted due to impossible weather.

April – the month of Aphrodite, who was associated with the Roman goddess Venus

May – symbolic of Maia, the Italic goddess of spring

medieval-calendar

June – symbolic of Juno, the goddess of the Roman Pantheon, and of marriage and the well-being of women. Juno was the wife and sister of Jupiter.

Okay, ewww.

July – Julius Caesar named this month after, guess who? Himself.

AugustAugustus Caesar, great-nephew of Julius, tweaked his great-uncle’s calendar a bit, and re-named this month after himself.

September – December – tried and true. Save for the number of days – ranging from 29 to 31 (with the exception of October, which has always had 31 days) – these months have remained in place for all time.

.

4.  New Year’s resolutions are nothing new, it turns out. This practice began with the ancient Babylonians, whose favorite resolution was the promise to return work equipment borrowed from neighbors throughout the year.

ancient-babylonians-shaking-hands

These resolutions were taken quite seriously. Rather than making them to themselves, Babylonians made them to each other as formal promises.

.

5.  Many medievals believed the New Year brought luck in the form of round foods. The luckiest food?

Donuts!

Its circular shape symbolized completion of the full circle of a year. Munching donuts on New Year’s Day ensured a new year of health, wealth, and happiness.

.

new-year-champagne-toast

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

.

Medieval Monday

sylverblaque-medieval-monday

See all 5 Medieval Facts of Life posts!

.

6 thoughts on “5 Medieval Facts of New Year’s

What are your thoughts? Leave a Reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s