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.
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.
In medieval times, the celebration of this particular holiday was taken very seriously, for it was a celebration of the birth of Christ. Hours-long masses were attended daily during this holiday – which lasted until the Egyptian winter solstice on January 6th.
But that didn’t mean there was no fun to be had after mass. Who wouldn’t need to party after praying solemnly day after day for hours on end? Long masses were followed by performances and dances in villages and castles.
In the villages, peasants reveled boisterously with much singing, dancing, food donated by the rich, and fountains of ale arranged by the King.
Mood: That after-dinner, stuffed, satiated-feeling, belly-up on the sofa with family all around, everyone’s shirts barely covering protruding bellies, ripped gift paper all over the place ‘cuz too comfy & pooped to clean it up because barely able to keep eyes open with this song lulling you to sleep…