Happy New Year 2020: In many countries, people begin their celebrations on December 31, which continue until the wee hours of January 1. (Source: Getty/Thinktock)
Happy New Year 2020: The New Year will be upon us in a few hours. It is the first day of the year, as per the modern Gregorian calendar. But, do you know why so many countries all over the world celebrate this particular day with so much grandeur every year? It is believed that ever since the modern calendar came into being, civilizations around the world have been observing the New Year's Day festivities, making resolutions, watching the fireworks and making elaborate and not-so-elaborate plans for the new year.
It is believed the earliest recorded festivities happened some 4,000 years ago, in ancient Babylon, wherein the equinox in March — equal duration of day and night — served as the beginning of a new year. During the reign of Julius Caesar, 90 extra days were added to the year, so as to align the Roman calendar with the sun. As such, the Julian calendar was introduced to the world, which resembles the modern-day Gregorian calendar.
Around this time, January 1 was recognised as the first day of the year to honour Janus — the Roman god of beginnings — who, it is believed, had two faces with which he looked at both the past and the future. Back in the day, the Romans made sacrifices to Janus, decorated their houses and exchanged gifts.
Later, in medieval Europe, the new year held a more religious significance, with Christian leaders insisting on celebrating the day on December 25, to mark the birthday of Jesus Christ. In the year 1582, Pope Gregory XIII re-established January 1 as New Year’s Day.
In many countries, people begin their celebrations on December 31, which continue until the wee hours of January 1 — as per the timezone, of course. Merry-makers meet with their near and dear ones, hold themed parties, play games and ring in the New Year with great joy and gusto. In many places, the first day of the year is observed as a holiday.