§154 New year? Who says? A two-faced roman god!January 1, 2008
So why exactly is this a new year? Ever thought about that? Why doesn’t it switch from 2007 to 2008 on the 1st of September or July? Why does the new year start with January? Why? Why? And as I pondered on the 23rd, if the count is from the birth of Jesus, then why isn’t New Years on Christmas, which according to the church is his birthday?
I made some investigations about this, and found the following facts from the book “Antikens Historier” by Alf Henriksson:
A few hundred years BC, long before Rome became a super power, they developed their own calender. Some dude (can’t remember the name right now) named the first 4 months after gods: Mars, April, May, June (Although April is a mystery, maybe it’s not a god at all). The rest of the months got numbers from the fifth till the tenth: Quintillus, Sextullus, September, October, November, December. The first two were later changed to July and August by a couple of not very modest emperors.
Then from the end of the year, December, until the beginning of the new year, March, there was the dead time when no agricultural work could be done. This king dude whose name I can’t remember decided to make that into two months and named them January and February. February is a mystery but has to do with some pagan ritual of spanking naked people with flesh. As it was the last month of the year it also has less days.
Janus is the god of the Beginning, which gives us a clue to why this happened to be the first month after a while. When the romans prayed to their gods, Janus should always be mentioned first. He had 2 faces – one to the past and one to the future. He also had a temple with two doors who were to be open during times of war (a door keeper is still called janitor after that god). So somewhere along the way, the romans changed their new year from March to January.
However, what did the church make of all this? Of what I can see, the church was actually against celebrating new years on the 31st of December. It should rather be… Christmas? No, actually 9 months earlier, March 25th. “When Jesus became human”. Then there were others who had their new years on Easter, and the Byzantines had it on September 1st. There were other ideas also. Basically, there was a total confusion about this during the medieval times, simply because the popes repressed the “normal” and well known new year of December 31st. It was just too connected to all drinking and partying the pagans used to do.
The popes weren’t able to surpress the pagan memories of their people, and when the renaissance came people started thinking that everything greek and roman was good. So December 31st was reinstated as the last day of the year, officially in 1588 with the new Gregorian calender.
So that’s what you celebrated yesterday, people… uhm… a two faced roman god and medieval confusion. Hurray!
Me? I celebrated it by looking up from my studies, go to my wife who was already asleep, give her a kiss and say “It’s 5 minutes past 2008 – here’s a first kiss”.
Yes, I aknowledge it. I have to because we all count that way.
Question of the day: How do you intend to celebrate August 20th? And why would you do that?
Tip of the day: The “8” in the name of the new year is standing up. He will expire within a year. If he would lay down he’d be eternal. Go lay down.
No, c’mon, that’s not fair!