New Year’s Day

Below are dates for upcoming New Year’s Day holidays:

Bank HolidayDay of weekDateWeek
New Year's Day 2016Friday1st January 20161
New Year's Day 2016Sunday1st January 20171
New Year's Day 2016Monday1st January 20181

New Years’s Day is January the 1st and the first day of the Julian Calendar and Modern Gergorian Calender.

History of New Year

New Year’s Day was first established as a holiday in 46 BC by the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in fact the word “January” comes from the Roman God Janus. This Roman God was the God of gates and doors and had many faces, one looking back and looking forwards. Julius Caesar felt that it was appropriate to name the month of January after this God because January is the door to the year. Julius Caesar actually celebrated the New Year by ordering violence against the Jewish forces in Galilee. Eyewitness accounts say that blood flowed through the streets. Many years later the Roman pagans celebrated the New Year by taking part in drunkenness and orgies. They believe that this ritual was a re-enactment of the chaos which existed before the gods brought order.

Later, as Christianity spread, the pagan holidays were abandoned or incorporated into the Christian calendar for holidays. By the time of the early medieval period, much of Europe considered Annunciation Day as the beginning of the year. This was on March 25th. In Catholic tradition, the Annunciation Day celebrates the announcement to Mary that she would be impregnated by God and thus conceive Jesus.

When William the Conqueror became the king of England in 1066, he announced that the date of New Year should be returned to the date established by the Romans. This was of course January 1st. Because his coronation was on December 25th, the move of the date for New Year meant that the English and Christian calendars would be in line with his coronation. This idea of changing dates was eventually rejected and England returned the date for New Year back to March 25th.

Around 500 years later Pope Gregory XIII decided to abandon the old Julian calendar and christened January 1st as the start of the new year once again.


New Year around the world

New Year is still celebrated on different dates throughout the world:

  • Ethiopian New Year’s day is celebrated on September 11 as Ethiopia still uses its own calendar based on the Julian calendar. New Year is often seen as the end of the summer rain season.
  • In many other places areas of Africa, the New Year is celebrated on the second Sunday of June. This was started by local tradition.
  • New Year in Cambodia is celebrated on 13th April. There are in fact three days for New Year: the first day is named Moha Songkran, the second is Virak Wanabat, third day is Virak Loeurng Sak.
  • Thai New Year is also on the 13th April and is called Songkran. To celebrate this, people often splash water on each other as this is seen as a blessing.
  • Chinese New Year is something celebrated across the world. This is the first day of the Earth’s lunar calendar. It falls between 20th January and 20th February. Chinese New Year is celebrated with families, food and lucky money and the colour red is used regularly to symbolise good look. Much street entertainment takes place including dragons, dancers, fireworks and drums.
  • New Year in Vietnam is actually the most important holiday in the country and falls on the same days as the Chinese New Year. This is between 20th January and 20th February.
  • The Japanese New Year is celebrated on 1st January because Japan uses the Gregorian calendar in place of the Chinese calendar.
  • In Korea New Year is called Seollal and is celebrated on the first day in the lunar calendar. Koreans are also known to celebrate New Year’s Day on 1st January.