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New Year's Day Feast



New Year

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner. [1] In the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar system today, New Year occurs on January 1 (New Year's Day). This was also the first day of the year in the original Julian calendar and the Roman calendar (after 153 BC). [2]

Other cultures observe their traditional or religious New Years Day according to their own customs, typically (though not invariably) because they use a lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar. Chinese New Year, the Islamic New Year, and the Jewish New Year are among well-known examples. India, Nepal and other countries also celebrate New Year on dates according to their own calendars that are movable in the Gregorian calendar.

During the Middle Ages in Western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year's Day, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, including March 1, March 25, Easter, September 1, and December 25. Since then, many national civil calendars in the Western World and beyond have changed to using one fixed date for New Year's Day, January 1— most doing so when they adopted of the Gregorian calendar.


Purchasing a New Year's pretzel is a must where I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I can't remember a New Year's without a pretzel. New Year's pretzels are supposed to be eaten at midnight or before breakfast on New Year's Day to bring good luck. If you've never had a delicious danish like this for New Year's, you should try this tradition.

If you want to bring good fortune into the New Year as soon as the clock strikes midnight, eat some of these traditional New Year's Day foods. A pork, cornbread, and lentil combination might just cause you to have the best year yet.


Biblical Calendation: Reckoning the New Year

In context, we know that this was in or near spring 1 , but how was Moses to demarcate "the first month" in future years? How was he to know when spring began? Was he to base the New Year on vegetation (i.e. barley), or was he to look to the heavens? Genesis holds the answer:

"And Elohim said, 'Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.' And it came to be so." (Genesis 1:14-15, ISR)

Genesis 1:14 states in plain language that the heavenly bodies are to be for "signs and appointed times, and for days and years." There is no mention of vegetation in this passage. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated that the beginning of the year is to be determined by examining barley. To suggest that the New Year hinges on the ripeness of the barley, when Scripture incontrovertibly declares that the heavenly bodies are to determine years, is to add to Yahuwah's Word.

You shall not add to the word that I command you nor take from it that you may keep the commandments of Yahuwah your Eloah that I command you. (See Deuteronomy 4:2.)

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (See Deuteronomy 12:32.)

Every word of Eloah is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (See Proverbs 30:5-6.)

While popular tradition teaches that the ripeness of Palestinian barley is the beacon for the New Year, this supposition cannot be supported by even one passage of Scripture. (For more on why the supposed "barley law" cannot rightfully be the determinant for the New Year, refer to the section below, entitled "Objections Answered.")

Now that we have established with certainty that the heavenly bodies are to determine years, the question is "What is it that takes place in the heavens to let us know that Winter is over and a New Year can begin?" A very important clue can be found in Exodus 34.

"And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end [H8622]." (Exodus 34:22, KJV)

Now, let us examine the Hebrew word, translated here as "end."

H8622 (tekufah) - "coming round, circuit of time or space, a turning, circuit" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Dictionary)

While it is not immediately apparent from the KJV, the word translated here as "end" [Strong's H8622] is referring to the fall equinox (also called the Autumnal equinox) in the middle of the year. This is confirmed by the fact that the Feast of Ingathering, also referred to as the "Feast of Tabernacles" and the "Feast of Booths," takes place in fall, in the Seventh Month (Leviticus 23:34) - in the middle of the year, not at the end of the year.

The Encyclopedia Judaica agrees with this interpretation.

"As stated, the four seasons in the Jewish year are called tekufot [plural of tekufah H8622]. More accurately, it is the beginning of each of the four seasons &ndash according to the common view, the mean beginning &ndash that is named tekufah (literally "circuit," from קוף related to נקף , "to go round"), the tekufah of Nisan denoting the mean sun at the vernal equinoctial point, that of Tammuz denoting it at the summer solstitial point, that of Tishri, at the autumnal equinoctial point, and that of Tevet, at the winter solstitial point." (Encyclopedia Judaica, Article "Calendar", p.356)

The translations below offer a more accurate rendering of Exodus 34:22.

"And thou shalt keep to me the feast of weeks, the beginning of wheat-harvest and the feast of ingathering in the middle of the year." (Exodus 34:22, Brenton's English Septuagint)

"And a feast of weeks thou dost observe for thyself first-fruits of wheat-harvest and the feast of in-gathering, at the revolution of the year." (Exodus 34:22, YLT)

"And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat-harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the turn of the year." (Exodus 34:22, Darby)

Thus far, we have established the following:

  1. The Feast of Ingathering revolves around the fall harvest in the Seventh Month (Leviticus 23:34).
  2. The Feast of Ingathering is associated with the fall equinox in the middle of the year.

It is only logical to conclude based on the above that the beginning of the year then is connected to the spring equinox, which takes place about six months before and after the fall equinox. If the fall feasts are connected to the fall equinox in the middle of the year, then the spring feasts must be connected to the spring equinox at the beginning of the year.

It is very important to note here that the Feast of Ingathering is directly associated with the fall equinox therefore, in order to fulfill the Biblical mandate, the Feast of Ingathering must be held on or very near the fall equinox.

(1a) Is this in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox?

No, not always. Sometimes, when using this method of reckoning, the Feast of Ingathering will be held on or very near the fall equinox. Sometimes, however, the Feast of Ingathering will fall up to 5 weeks after the fall equinox! (This would actually be the case in 2015, if this method were used.)

(1b) Is this in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox?

Yes, always. Using this method, the Feast of Ingathering will always fall on or near the fall equinox. The earliest the Feast will fall is about 7-10 days before the fall equinox. The latest the Feast will fall is about 3 weeks after the fall equinox. (This is actually a liberal estimation we have not found a single case where the Feast would fall an entire 3 weeks after the equinox, when using this method.)

The only definitive anchor point given in Scripture for identifying the proper method of reckoning the New Year is the fall equinox. Exodus 34:22 states that the Feast of Ingathering (in the seventh lunar month) is to be held at the tekufah, which in context is the fall equinox. It is not possible to consistently keep this mandate when always reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox. If we reckon the New Year by the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox, however, the Biblical mandate will be consistently met. But we cannot stop here.

(2) What do 1st century historians tell us about the New Year?

Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish Philosopher who lived before, during, and after our Saviour's earthly ministry, recorded many of the details relating to Biblical calendation in the 1st century. In the below quotations, Philo confirms that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is tied to the vernal equinox and that the Feast of Ingathering is tied to the fall equinox.

"At the first season which name he gives to the springtime and its equinox, he ordained that what is called the feast of unleavened bread should be kept for seven days, all of which he declared should be honored equally in the ritual assigned to them. For he ordered ten sacrifices to be offered each day as at the new moons, whole-burnt offerings amounting to seventy in all apart from the sin offerings. He considered, that is, that the seven days of the feast bore the same relation to the equinox which falls in the seventh month as the new moon does to the month." (Philo, Special Laws I (181-182) [Colson's Translation]) [Note: Philo, here, says that the fall equinox occurs in the seventh month, just as Scripture indicates - Ex.34:22.]

"To seven he gives the chief feasts prolonged for many days, two feasts, that is for the two equinoxes, each lasting seven days, the first in the springto celebrate the ripeness of the sown crops, the second in the autumn for the ingathering of all the tree-fruits. " (Philo, The Decalogue (161) [Colson's Translation])

". for it was the general festival of the Jews at the time of the autumnal equinox, during which it is the custom of the Jews to live in tents." (Philo, Flaccus XIV (116) [Yonge's Translation]) [Note: This quote is referring to the Feast of Ingathering, also called the "Feast of Tabernacles" or the "Feast of Booths," in which the Israelites would "dwell in booths seven days." See Lev.23:39-42.]

Flavius Josephus, a 1st century Romano-Jewish scholar, sheds even more light on the issue by confirming our understanding from another angle. Josephus comments on the position of the sun in relation to the stars at the time of the Passover.

"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians), the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we killed when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover. " (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 10, paragraph 5, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.iv.x.html)

Before commenting on this intriguing quote by Josephus, it is imperative that we understand the following: The celestial equator in relation to the stars is not the same as what it was in the days of Josephus. In the 1st century, the vernal equinox would have taken place just as the sun was entering the sign of Aries (the Ram). Today, however, the equinox occurs in the sign of Pisces.

Above: Equinox, 31 AD - Note that Aries is in the immediate path of the sun following the equinox.

Above: Equinox, 2013 AD - Note that Aries, today, is no longer in the sun's immediate path following the equinox.

Although we cannot use the same constellation today that they did in the 1st century to determine the beginning of the year, we can determine with a fair degree of certainty how the New Year was reckoned in relation to the equinox.

Let us look again at Josephus' quote:

"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians), the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we killed when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover. " (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 10, paragraph 5, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.iv.x.html)

Here, Josephus plainly states that Passover was observed when the sun was in the sign of Aries.

(2a) Is Josephus' testimony consistent with always reckoning the first New Moon after the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year?

No. If, in the 1st century, they had demanded that the first New Moon after the vernal equinox was always the beginning of the year, Passover would sometime be observed when the sun was in the sign of Taurus (well past the sign of Aries). Sometimes, this method would place Passover in Aries sometimes it would not.

Above: 31 AD - Reckoning the first New Moon after the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year would have placed Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) in the sign of Taurus, well beyond Aries. This does not agree with Josephus' testimony that the sun should be in Aries (1st century) on Passover. (Note: The translucent orb immediately below the sun is not the moon it is the sun's glare, as emulated by the astronomy software.)

(2b) Is Josephus' testimony consistent with reckoning the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year?

Yes. If, in the 1st century, the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox was reckoned as the beginning of the year, Passover would have consistently fallen in close proximity to Aries. Using this method would be much more consistent with the testimony of Josephus.

Above: 31 AD - Reckoning the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year would have placed Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) in the sign of Aries, in agreement with Josephus' testimony.

Now let us examine a remarkable passage from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. Eusebius was a Roman historian who lived from about 260 AD to 340 AD. In the following passage, he is quoting from the Canons of Anatolius on the Paschal (Passover) Festival.

"And this is not an opinion of our own but it was known to the Jews of old, even before Christ, and was carefully observed by them. This may be learned from what is said by Philo, Josephus, and Musæus and not only by them, but also by those yet more ancient, the two Agathobuli, surnamed 'Masters,' and the famous Aristobulus, who was chosen among the seventy interpreters of the sacred and divine Hebrew Scriptures by Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and who also dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings. These writers, explaining questions in regard to the Exodus, say that all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month. But this occurs while the sun is passing through the first segment of the solar, or as some of them have styled it, the zodiacal circle. Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]." (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, Chapter 32, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250107.htm)

From this quote, we can deduce the following:

    Passover cannot fall before the equinox:

". . . all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month."

"Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]."

At a glance, these may look like two entirely new criteria. Examining these quotations closely, though, reveals that this is actually just a more precise way of stating what we have already learned up to this point, namely that it is the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox that is to begin the year. The primary focus here should be on the full moon, which is inexorably tied to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The full moon is the fulcrum of the lunar month it marks the middle of the lunar cycle. If the full moon (the middle of the lunar cycle) falls even shortly before the vernal equinox, then the next New Moon would actually be the closest to the equinox. It is not as simple as counting the number of days between each New Moon Day and the equinox, because days are not necessarily a precise indicator of the middle of the lunar cycle. That is to say that the true middle of the lunar month (i.e. the full moon) does not always coincide with the 14th day of the month neither does it always coincide with the 15th day of the month. (In fact, there are rare occasions when the moon will not become 100% full until the 16th day of the lunar month. Click here for more.) That said, we will sometimes be in error if we simply count the number of days between each New Moon Day and the equinox. Making sure that both Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) and the full moon fall after the equinox is the real test. Below is an illustration of exactly what Aristobulus was referring to when he stated,

"Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]."

Above: This is an illustration of what happens at the first full moon after the equinox. The green circle represents the counter-clockwise path of the sun and moon. Note that both the sun and the moon have crossed the celestial equator (represented by the red line) and are positioned diametrically opposite one another at the "equinoctial points," the sun at the vernal equinox, and the moon at the autumnal equinox, exactly as described Aristobulus, according to Eusebius.

This is most remarkable! If we reckon the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox, which rightly interpreted will place the Passover and the full moon after the equinox, we will be in harmony with the calendation details recorded by Eusebius. (It is worth noting here that Aristobulus' statement about the necessity of the vernal equinox preceding the full moon of the first month would make little sense if the New Moon after the equinox was always to begin the year. For if the New Moon after the vernal equinox always began the year, the full moon of the first month would naturally fall weeks after the equinox. The fact that Aristobulus thought it necessary to comment on this criteria suggests that the full moon of the first month would sometimes fall close to the vernal equinox.)

Note: In addition to being consistent with Eusebius' commentary on Biblical calendation principles, ensuring that Passover always falls after the vernal equinox is also very logical, in that it will guarantee that only one Passover is observed within each solar year (vernal equinox to vernal equinox).

(2c) Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox?

No. Reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox:

  • . will sometimes place the Feast of Ingathering well past the fall equinox, which is not in harmony with Philo's testimony (or Scripture).
  • . will sometimes allow the fall equinox to occur in the sixth month, which is not in harmony with Philo's testimony (or Scripture).
  • . would sometimes have placed the sun in the sign of Taurus (well past the sign of Aries) at the time of the Passover in the first century, which is not in harmony with Josephus' testimony.

(2d) Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox?

Yes. Reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox (which rightly interpreted will always place the full moon and the Passover after the equinox) is consistent with the testimony of Philo, Josephus, and Eusebius.

The testimony of early historians indicates that it was the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox that began the year (which rightly interpreted will always place the full moon and the Passover after the equinox). One cannot maintain harmony with the testimonies of Philo and Josephus, while adhering to the first New Moon after the equinox methodology of reckoning the New Year.

(3) Scripture indicates that the sun, moon, and stars are to be used for timekeeping. (Gen.1:14-16)

(3a) When reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox, are all three taken into account (sun, moon, & stars)?

No. Josephus' testimony of how the stars (i.e. the sign of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century must be disregarded in order to cling to this method of reckoning.

(3b) When reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox, are all three taken into account (sun, moon, & stars)?

Yes. This method is in harmony with Josephus' testimony of how the stars (i.e. the sign of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century.

Note: Although the progression of the sun across the celestial equator has changed in relation to the stars since the days of Josephus, we can still use the stars in a sense to confirm the beginning of the year. While it might on a rare occasion be possible for the sun to reach the sign of Aries by Passover, the sun will most often be in the sign of Pisces on Passover. Today, the sun will always be in Pisces when the vernal equinox takes place, and in Virgo when the fall equinox takes place.

Reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox is consistent with Scripture, in that it takes into account, and is in harmony with the historical testimony of how the stars (i.e. the constellation of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century.

(4) According to the Metonic Cycle, there are seven embolismic years within a 19-year cycle: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

(4a) Is the Metonic Cycle manifested when reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox?

Yes. This is proof only of our Creator's marvelous design. The establishment of the Metonic Cycle does not prove any particular method of reckoning, but is worth studying, as it shows us where we are in the grand scheme of embolismic years. (See Metonic Cycle Chart.)

(5) There will be two total lunar eclipses (often called "blood moons") in 2014 and two total lunar eclipses in 2015 (4 in all a "tetrad"). Could this very rare occurrence be a sign pointing Yahuwah's faithful to the correct method of determining the New Year?

Given the tremendous importance that Scripture places on the heavenly bodies, it is not unreasonable to conclude that these eclipses are, in fact, a divine marker, and that there coinciding with the annual Feasts is not arbitrary.

"He appoints the number of the stars, He gives names to all of them. Great is our Master and mighty in power, There is no limit to His understanding." (Psalm 147:4-5, ISR)

"Lift up your eyes on high and see. Who has created these? He who is bringing out their host by number, He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power &ndash not one is missing." (Isa.40:26, ISR)

(5a) Will these eclipses coincide with the first day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of Tabernacles both years when reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox?

No. They will coincide only with the Feasts in 2014. The Feasts in 2015 will fall one month later than the eclipses.

(5b) Will these eclipses coincide with the first day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of Tabernacles both years when reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox?

Yes. They will coincide with the Feasts in both years (2014 & 2015).

It would be irresponsible for Yahuwahs' faithful to disregard the signs taking place in the heavens in these last days. It is Yahuwah's hand that upholds and orchestrates everything in Creation. In these closing moments, Yahuwah's faithful should be especially mindful and observant of all that takes place in the heavens.

And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Master come. (See Acts 2:19-20.)

Note: This is not necessarily intended to be evidence in favor of using the nearest New Moon to the vernal equinox method of reckoning, for there have been tetrads of lunar eclipses in the recent past (e.g. 1967-1968) that would not have lined up with the feasts using this reckoning. It is, however, very interesting to note this phenomenon.

WLC believes, based on the Exodus 34:22 mandate, that the Biblical New Year is reckoned by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox. The historical commentary on the matter only buttresses what was deduced from Scripture alone.

(1) Question/Objection: If the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox is the true beacon of the New Year, how can we know in advance which New Moon will be the closest? How could ancient Israel have possibly known this?

ANSWER: These are very good questions. There is no doubt that the faithful Israelites had to have known well in advance when the Passover would be observed. In years when the Passover fell very close to the vernal equinox (e.g. the day after), the Israelites living outside of Jerusalem would have had to begin their journey even before the equinox had taken place. It is not clear at this time just how the Israelites were able to anticipate when the vernal equinox would occur in relation to the New Moons - so that they could declare with certainty the beginning of the year. One thing is certain, though: the ancient Israelites had an incredible understanding of the heavens. We, today, with all of the available technology are likely only approaching what would have been common knowledge to the average Israelite.

Our ignorance, today, is proof of nothing except the loss of knowledge that comes through rebellion and disobedience. Our inability to understand the machinations of the heavens as the ancients did in no way negates the overwhelming evidence that it is the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox that begins the Biblical year.

Perhaps, they simply counted 180 days 2 from the fall equinox [autumnal equinox] to determine roughly where the vernal equinox would fall, and then calculated where the New Moons would fall in relation to that. For example, if the fall equinox occurred on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the 7th lunar month), they could have then worked out the following equation:

  • 180 days = Approximate number of days from the fall equinox until the vernal equinox
  • 180 days - 15 days (the approximate number of days remaining in the 7th month) = 165 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 8th month.
  • 165 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 135.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 9th month.
  • 135.5 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 106 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 10th month.
  • 106 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 76.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 11th month.
  • 76.5 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 47 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 12th month.
  • 47 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 17.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the following month.
  • Since 17.5 days is significantly more than 14.77, which is approximately half the number of days in a lunar month, this will likely be a 13th month, and the next New Moon Day (which will fall about 12 days after the vernal equinox) will begin the year.

Doing the math in this fashion certainly cannot account for their ability to accurately anticipate the beginning of the year when the vernal equinox fell very close the full moon in the middle of the lunar month, but, again, their knowledge of the heavens was irrefutably superior to ours. It bears repeating that our inability to understand the machinations of the heavens as the ancients did in no way negates the overwhelming evidence that it is the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox that begins the Biblical year.

(2) Question/Objection: Philo states that the "beginning" of the vernal equinox is the first month of the year. Does this not indicate that it is the New Moon after the vernal equinox that begins the year?

"Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year, attributing the chief honour, not as some persons do to the periodical revolutions of the year in regard of time, but rather to the graces and beauties of nature which it has caused to shine upon men . . . Accordingly, in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, when the orb of the moon is usually about to become full, the public universal feast of the passover is celebrated . . ." (Philo, On The Life Of Moses II, Section XLI (222-224), http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book25.html)

ANSWER: This is an excellent question. (WLC originally misinterpreted this commentary in the same way.) At first glance, it appears that Philo is saying that the first lunar month of the year begins with the vernal equinox. Philo, here, cannot be referring to lunar months, though the lunar cycle pays no attention to when the equinox occurs, and consequently, the New Moon does not consistently line up with the vernal equinox. Philo, here, is apparently referring to solar months, not lunar months. A solar month is determined by the sun's location in the zodiac the first solar month begins with the vernal equinox. In Philo's day, the first solar month was Aries (as noted by Josephus), followed by Taurus, Gemini, etc. The first solar month of each solar year begins with the vernal equinox.

Later in this passage, Philo goes on to say "in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, . . . [the] feast of the passover is celebrated." Here Philo is clearly referring to the first lunar month. When viewed together, we see that Philo is restating what we learned earlier from Josephus: The Passover (the 14th day of the first lunar month) was observed in the first solar month (when the sun was in Aries). This statement says nothing about reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox.

(3) Question/Objection: Philo states that months are reckoned "from the vernal equinox." Does this not indicate that it is the New Moon after the vernal equinox that begins the year?

"(Scripture) thinks it proper to reckon the cycle of months from the vernal equinox. Moreover, (this month) is said to be the &lsquofirst&rsquo and the &lsquobeginning&rsquo by synonymy, since these (terms) are explained by each other, for it is said to be the first both in order and in power similarly that time which proceeds from the vernal equinox also appears (as) the beginning both in order and in power, in the same way as the head (is the beginning) of a living creature. And thus those who are learned in astronomy have given this name to the beforementioned time. For they call the Ram the head of the zodiac since in it the sun appears to produce the vernal equinox." (Philo, Supplement II, Questions and Answers on Exodus, translated by Ralph Marcus, Ph.D., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA:, 1953, pp. 2-3.)

ANSWER: Here, again, Philo is not referring to the cycle of lunar months, but rather to the cycle of solar months, which as we discussed in the previous "question/objection," commences at the vernal equinox. Further proof of this is found later in this passage, when Philo makes reference to Aries, "the Ram the head of the zodiac," which in the first century, was the first month of the solar year. Again, this statement says nothing about reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox.

(4) Question/Objection: Reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox would not allow enough time for the barley to become ripe ("Abib") before the day of First Fruits.

ANSWER: Much could be said on this point, but we need not spend an exuberant amount of time addressing this in order to expose the fallacy. We need only look at what Scripture actually says about "Abib" and the First Fruits offering.

"And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear [Abib], and the flax was bolled." (Exodus 9:31)

"This day came ye out in the month Abib." (Exodus 13:4)

"Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty." (Exodus 23:15)

"The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt." (Exodus 34:18)

And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto Yahuwah, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn [Abib] dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. (See Leviticus 2:14.)

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto Yahuwah thy Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahuwah thy Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. (See Deuteronomy 16:1.)

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Dictionary, Abib simply means: "(1) fresh, young barley ears, barley (2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, month of exodus and passover . . ." The root of Abib is Strong's #H3, which means "freshness, fresh green, green shoots, or greenery." (Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Dictionary)

Abib does not mean "ripe," nor does it mean 16 days 3 from being ripe. It simply means young or green. This, really, is the crux of the matter. When Moses recorded the Abib state of the barley (Exodus 9:31), he was simply stating that the barley had sprung up it was green and growing. That is why it was destroyed, while the wheat and the rie (which had not yet sprung up) were not (Exodus 9:32). When Scripture refers to the "month of Abib," it is simply referring to the month in which the crops mature, or begin to mature.

The second very important point we need to address is Yahuwah's instructions regarding the First Fruits offering.

And Yahuwah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahuwah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto Yahuwah. And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Yahuwah for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." (See Leviticus 23:9-14.)

Simply put, there is no mention here of "mature" barley. The command is simply to bring a sheaf of first fruits to the priest to wave on the appointed day, and not to eat of the fields until this had been done.

As responsible Bible students and seekers of truth, we cannot ignore the weight of evidence identifying the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year in favor of the Karaite Jewish tradition, and a presumed understanding of the ripening crops in ancient Palestine.

(5) Question/Objection: I was always taught that the New Year could not be declared until the Palestinian barely was ripe. Why do you not take the ripeness of the barley into consideration?

ANSWER: There are many insuperable issues with the supposition that the New Year revolves exclusively around the ripeness of Palestinian barley:

  • Nowhere in Scripture is there any mention of a "barley harvest law."
  • Genesis 1:14 declares that the heavenly bodies are "for seasons, and for days, and years." While we can logically conclude that the barley would need to be ripe for the day of firstfruits, and we can contextually verify that the barley was nearing maturity when the hail plagued Egypt (Ex.9:22-31), nowhere in Scripture does it say that vegetation (i.e. barley) is to be for "for seasons, and for days, and years."
  • The concept of "years" is introduced pre-sin, pre-flood, and pre-curse (Genesis 1:14), at least 1,500 years before the flood (2,500 years before the Exodus). It does not seem reasonable to presume that the antediluvian world was dependent upon barley for determining the New Year. It does make sense, however, to conclude that they were dependent upon the heavenly bodies, Yahuwah's ordained calendar, for determining "seasons, . . . days, and years."
  • Noah was able to accurately keep track of time during the flood (without planting barley).
  • The children of Israel were able to keep track of time during their wilderness experience (without planting barley). Numbers 9:1-14 explains how the children of Israel kept the Passover in the wilderness.
  • To suggest that the ripeness of Palestinian barley is the only way to determine the beginning of the year is to suggest one of two things: (1) Those living outside of the geographic region of Palestine are entirely dependent upon internet technology (for receiving witness to the state of Palestinian Barley, which is itself incredibly trivial, given the nature of today's agricultural practices) (2) Yahuwah's faithful must rely on tradition and man's version of history which declares the acceptable parallel of Gregorian dates in which the "latter rains" would have fallen two thousand plus years ago. In a sense, this implies that we need the Gregorian calendar to determine the beginning of the New Year, for without it, we could not know the satisfactory dates for beginning the New Year. It is not acceptable to suggest that Yahuwah's faithful must rely on man's guesswork or the papal Gregorian calendar for reckoning the Biblical New Year. Nor is it acceptable to suggest that the faithful must rely on internet technology and modern agricultural practices in the middle east.
  • Adhering to the supposed "barley harvest law" demands that we believe that the faithful prior to Israel's entrance into Canaan (including the children of Israel in the wilderness) could not begin their year correctly, or that the method for reckoning the beginning of the year changed once Israel had entered the promised land. This is an absurd proposition. Are we to believe that the faithful, up to this point, calculated the beginning of the year based upon an assumed ripening date for barley in a land in which they were not even living? Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Palestinian barley is to determine the new year. The Bible states in plain language that years are to be determined by the heavenly bodies. "And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." (Genesis 1:14)

Note: WLC believes that Jerusalem time should be used to determine the beginning of the year, not because WLC reckons earthly Jerusalem as today holding an exalted position, but because the feast days are anniversaries of real events. Passover, for example, was the day of our lord's crucifixion in Jerusalem. Using Jerusalem time (in relation to the vernal equinox) to begin the year ensures that we are observing the feast days on the same days as Christ and his apostles 2,000 years ago.

1 Exodus 9:31 records that the barley and the flax were nearing maturity when they were destroyed by the plague of hail. By this, we know that it was springtime, or nearing springtime.

2 There are approximately 180 days between the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox.

3 The First Fruits offering was to take place on the 16th day of the first month, following the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. (See Leviticus 23:9-11.)


Contents

In summary, the Act has three key elements:

  • It acknowledges the practical difficulties created for England by its traditional practice of beginning the year on 25 March, when common practice among its people, [c] as well as legal and common usage in Scotland (since 1600) and most of Europe, was to begin the year on 1 January. Accordingly, the Act provided that "all His Majesty's Dominions" would cease this tradition from the end of December 1751, such that the following day would be 1 January 1752. [1]
  • It acknowledges that the Julian calendar still in use in Great Britain and its Dominions had been found to be inaccurate, and that most of Europe had already adopted an (unnamed) revised calendar. [a] The Julian calendar was eleven days ahead of this 'New Style' calendar. With this Act, therefore, Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar (implicitly but not explicitly). To do so, it ordered that eleven days be removed from September 1752 and that centennial years no longer be leap years unless divisible by 400. [2]
  • An annex to the Act gives a method to calculate the dates of Easter by varying slightly the traditional method of the Church of England (rather than by adopting the method of Pope Gregory XIII). [3]

The Act also provides that fixed religious feast days continue to be observed on the same calendar date, whereas movable feasts (whose dates depend on the date of Easter) would follow from the new rules for its calculation. [4] Religious feast days were to be held to their nominal dates (for example Michaelmas, on 29 September), but the Act also requires that the dates of 'fairs and marts' traditionally associated with those feasts (but in reality tied to the seasons), be moved in the calendar by discounting eleven days. [5] Thus, for example, the Michaelmas hiring and mop fairs moved to 10 October and became known as Old Michaelmas Day. [6] Christmas Day was still celebrated on 25 December and an 'Old Christmas' was not formalised: nevertheless, some communities were reluctant to accept the change. [7]

The Act includes various measures to prevent injustice and other problems. For example, Section VI, echoing a rule in Gregory's reform, provides that the date on which rents and other debts are due must be deferred by 11 days. [8] In addition, the same Section says a person does not reach a particular age, including especially the age of majority (21), until the complete number of years have passed. [8]

In addition, the Act finally settles the position of leap day in English law as 29 February. [9] [d]

New Year's Day Edit

Since 1155, the legal New Year's Day in England had been 25 March. [14] The introduction to the Act states succinctly the rationale for a change to the start of the year in England (and Wales) to 1 January. [15] The March date had been found to have many inconveniences. It differed from the date (1 January) used by Scotland, other neighbouring countries, and by ordinary people throughout the kingdom. [c] As a consequence, it says, frequent mistakes were made in the dates of deeds and other writings. [15] [f]

In his biographies of the Caesars, Suetonius wrote the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in AUC 709 (45 BC), continued the old Roman practice of beginning the year with January. [16] Later Christians felt 1 January had no religious significance and wanted to begin the year on a more appropriate date. [17] No civil legislation or religious canon law ordered this change, but Christmas Day, 25 December, gradually became popular in England from the 6th century. [18] In 1067, New Year's Day reverted to 1 January, but in 1155 it was changed to 25 March, [g] where it remained until changed by this Act. [14] It is the continuation of the Roman calendar layout beginning with January that eventually led European countries in the 16th century to return to a year start on 1 January. Examples include the Venetian Republic (1522, sixty years before the Gregorian reform), France (1564) and Scotland (1600). [18] By 1750 most of Europe had already made this change and the continuing English practice became a source of confusion for English merchants and diplomats and their counterparts, when dealing across the Channel or with Scotland. [19]

The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 removed this difficulty by changing the start of the year to 1 January for England and Wales and the colonies. [i] The change applied "after the last day of December 1751". [22] [j] The legal year which began on 25 March 1751 became a short year of 282 days, running from 25 March 1751 to 31 December 1751. The following year began as 1 January 1752 (New Style). [23]

The eleven day shift Edit

The reason given to discard both the traditional calendar and the eleven-day accumulated difference was a religious one: calculation of the date of Easter. The introduction to the Act explains that, due to the inaccuracy in the Julian calendar, the date of the spring equinox (which determines the date of Easter) had drifted by about eleven days from its date at the time of the First Council of Nicaea, 21 March, [k] and that this drift would continue unless the calendar was corrected and the eleven days' difference deleted. [2]

The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 by the papal bull "Inter gravissimas" ("Among the most serious"). The intention expressed by the text of this bull was to reset the calendar so that celestial events critical for the calculation of Easter dates—the March equinox and its adjacent full moons—would be back in what the bull calls "their proper places" and would be prevented from being moved away again. The divergence had happened because the Julian calendar adds a leap year every four years, but this process adds about three more days every four hundred years than the earth's orbit requires. By 1582, the error had accumulated to the extent that the calendar date of the spring equinox had moved from 21 March by about ten days. [24] [l]

Gregory's reform removed ten days from the Julian calendar, thus resetting 21 March to coincide with the equinox. [25] The reform also provided a new method for calculating leap years so that the error would not recur. Under the Julian calendar a leap year fell every four years when the year was evenly divisible by four. The second part of Gregory's change declared that a centennial year would not be a leap year unless it was further evenly divisible by 400: Section II of the Act replicates this algorithm. By 1750, almost all countries in Western Christendom except Britain and its empire had already adopted Gregory's reform. [26]

According to Gregory's rule, the year 1600 was a leap year, but 1700 was not—but it remained a leap year under the Julian calendar. This meant that when Britain reformed the calendar in the 1750s, the divergence between the calendars had reached eleven days. Section I of the Act corrects this divergence by providing that Wednesday, 2 September 1752 be followed by Thursday, 14 September 1752. [2]

Calculation of the date of Easter: the Computus Edit

The Annex to the Act gives the algorithm (formally, 'the Computus') to be used thereafter in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer to establish the date of Easter: this replaced the previous rules used by the Church. However, with the potential for religious strife in mind, the promoters of the Bill downplayed the Roman Catholic connection. The Parliamentary drafters of the Act, and of the associated text to revise the Book of Common Prayer, were careful to minimise the impact on religious sensitivities by expressing the revision in terms consistent with the traditional method of the Church of England. [27] They had reason to be cautious: the Government of Elizabeth I had first attempted to reform the calendar in 1583/1584, but the Anglican hierarchy of the day rejected the proposal because of its Popish origins. [28] Again, when Sir Isaac Newton renewed the campaign to correct the calendar in 1699, his proposal foundered on doctrinal objections. [29] [30] The Annex established a computation for the date of Easter that achieved the same result as Gregory's rules, without actually referring to him. [4] The algorithm, set out in the Book of Common Prayer as required by the Act, includes calculation of the Golden Number and the Sunday Letter needed for the Anglican method. The Annex includes the definition: "Easter-day (on which the rest depend) is always the first Sunday after the Full Moon, which happens upon, or next after the Twenty-first Day of March. And if the Full Moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after". [3] The Annex uses the terms 'Paschal Full Moon' and 'Ecclesiastical Full Moon', making it clear that they only approximate to the real full moon. [31]

In his The Book of Almanacs (1851) Augustus de Morgan (Professor of Mathematics at University College, London), commented on the definition of Easter in the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. He noted that the body of the Act wrongly stated the way Easter was calculated, but that the annexed Tables correctly set out the dates for Easter as prescribed by Pope Gregory. [32]

Leap day Edit

Until the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, England followed the practice of the early Julian calendar period of creating a leap day by having two successive days numbered 24 February. [33] The Book of Common Prayer (1662) included a calendar which used entirely consecutive day counting and showed leap day as falling on 29 February. [13]

Section II of the Calendar (New Style) Act contains the new Gregorian rule for determining leap years in the future and also makes it quite clear that leap years contain 366 days. [m] In addition, the calendar at the end of this Act confirms that leap day falls on 29 February. [9]

Today, a major reform of this kind would be a government bill, but this was a Private Member's Bill, [35] proposed in the House of Lords on 25 February 1750 [8 March 1751 Gregorian] by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. [36] The proposition was seconded in detail by Lord Macclesfield, [37] whom Chesterfield described as one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers in Europe. [38] [n] Macclesfield had contributed the technical knowledge underlying the reform with support from Martin Folkes (then president of the Royal Society) and James Bradley (the astronomer royal). [39] Bradley devised the revised Easter tables. Peter Davall, a barrister of the Middle Temple, who was also an astronomer and formerly secretary to the Royal Society, drafted the Bill. [40] The prime minister the Duke of Newcastle, opposed the Bill and asked Chesterfield to abandon it, but the Government did not block it and the Bill passed in the Lords without further debate. [37]

The House of Commons passed the Bill on 13 May [N.S. 24 May] 1751 [41] it received royal assent on 22 May [N.S. 2 June] 1751. [42]

Title of the Act Edit

The formal title of the Act is: An act for regulating the commencement of the year and for correcting the calendar now in use. [1]

It was not the practice in the 18th century to give brief titles to Acts of Parliament, now known as their 'Short Titles'. The old long titles had proved increasingly inconvenient, [o] and it later became the custom to give acts informal short titles. The Short Titles Act 1896 regularised this and retrospectively gave short titles to old statutes that were still live. [44] In particular, the 1896 Act conferred the short title Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 on this Act. [45]

Date of the Act Edit

It may seem strange to modern readers that the Calendar (New Style) Act has the date of 1750 when Royal Assent was given on 22 May 1751. The reason is that, before the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793, the date on which a Bill became law was the first day of the Parliamentary Session in which they passed, unless the Act contained a provision to the contrary. [46]

The calendar reform bill was introduced in the session which began on 17 January 1750 Old Style [N.S. 28 January 1751], almost nine months into a year that had begun on 23 March 1750. Hence the Short Titles Act 1896 assigned the calendar reform to 1750. [45]

The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 applied to those countries and dominions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America that belonged or were subject to the crown of Great Britain. [47]

Wales Edit

After the conquest of Wales by Edward I of England, English law was increasingly applied. Various acts passed by the Parliament of England between 1535 and 1542 consolidated the combination of England and Wales as a single jurisdiction. Nevertheless, before the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 (20 Geo. 2, c42) it was often uncertain whether a reference to 'England' in legislation of the London Parliament included Wales. The 1746 Act provided that in all legislation, past and future, the word 'England' was deemed to include Wales and thus the Calendar Act (four years later) applied to Wales, despite it not being named explicitly. [48] [p]

Scotland Edit

Ex Regist, Secr. conc. in Archivis Publicis Scotiae. [49] [q]

As part of the Kingdom of Great Britain since the Acts of Union 1707, the Act applied equally to Scotland as to England. Scotland had already made part of the change: its calendar year had begun on 1 January since 1600. [49] The example of Continental countries prompted King James VI of Scotland and his council to make the change, as the Register of the Scottish Privy Council of 17 December 1599 records. [50]

Ireland Edit

At the time, the Kingdom of Ireland was a semi-autonomous kingdom in a personal union with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Declaratory Act 1719 asserted that the Parliament of Great Britain had the right to legislate for Ireland, which was one of His Majesty's Dominions. Nevertheless, in 1782, the Parliament of Ireland enacted a statute to confirm the application of the 1750 Act to Ireland. [51] Whatever the de jure status of the British Act in Ireland, it was applied immediately de facto, as recorded in the ready reckoner printed in Faulkner's Dublin Journal for 1752. [52]

Isle of Man Edit

In January 1753, the Tynwald, the Isle of Man's legislature, passed an Act for regulating the Commencement of the Year, and for establishing the new Calendar now used in England, [53] now referred to as the Gregorian Calendar Act 1753. [54] [55] The Act recited the Island had observed the calendar established by the British Act since 1 January 1752 and made provision in similar terms to the British Act. The Act was promulgated and became law, with retrospective effect, on 5 July 1753. One of its permanent effects was to postpone the holding of the annual sitting of Tynwald at St John's, at which Acts of Tynwald were and still are promulgated, from 24 June (the feast of St John the Baptist) to 5 July. [55] : section 11

America Edit

The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 applied to Britain's American colonies: the north-eastern states of the present day United States and part of Canada. [56] Some British law, including the 1750 Act, is still applicable in some US states because when American independence was declared in 1776, it was not practical for these former colonies to create an entirely new body of American law to replace British law. The practical solution adopted was to continue to apply British law as it stood in 1776 but subject to the proviso that it could be overridden by any subsequent provision of American law, [57] and did not conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States. [58]

James Bryan Whitfield, a former Florida Supreme Court judge, together with others, produced a comprehensive list of the relevant measures in 1941. [59] This built on earlier work by Missouri. The list includes the key part of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. [59]

Some states adopted as their common law the laws of England as it was in 1607, predating the 1750 Act. [60]

There is no US federal calendar law. [61]

The Act remains directly in force in Canada as part of Canadian law. [62] [63]

Other former British colonies Edit

The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 applies directly or indirectly in other former British colonies.

Early Australian colonial legislation applied British law. [64] Subsequently, various reviews have considered the relevance of old British statutes. Australian States eventually repealed British statutes but re-enacted those which remained relevant, such as the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. For example, New South Wales passed the Imperial Acts Application Act 1969, the First Schedule of which repeals various British statutes including the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. [65] At the same time Section 16 continues the operation of the British Calendar Act by restating key parts and by referring to that Act for the details. [66]

New Zealand also passed early legislation at various times applying British law. [67] [68] In 1988, New Zealand enacted the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, which disapplied all but a limited schedule of English Acts it declared to be "part of the laws of New Zealand", one of which is the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. [69]

Asia and Africa Edit

Britain had by this time begun colonising India and parts of Africa—hence the references to Asia and Africa. [70]

Europe Edit

Apart from Great Britain and Ireland, the only part of Europe under effective British sovereignty was Gibraltar. [71] However, each session of Parliament began with a recital that the King was also the rightful King of France. [72] [r]

"Give us our eleven days!" – the calendar riot myth Edit

Some history books report rioting in reaction to the calendar change, with people demanding that their 'eleven days' be returned. However, this is very likely a myth, based on just two primary sources—The World, a satirical journal of Lord Chesterfield, and An Election Entertainment, a painting by the satirist William Hogarth. [73] There are no contemporary records of any such events in the riot depositions at the Public Record Office. [74] [75]

This is the same Lord Chesterfield who introduced the Bill to the House of Lords. He wrote to his son (without saying which 'numerous assembly' he had in mind), "Every numerous assembly is a mob, let the individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere sense is never to be talked to a mob their passions, their sentiments, their senses and their seeming interests alone are to be applied to. Understanding have they collectively none." [36]

When the son of the Earl of Macclesfield (who had been influential in passing the Act) stood for Parliament in Oxfordshire as a Whig in 1754, dissatisfaction with the calendar reform was one of a number of issues raised by his Tory opponents. In 1755, Hogarth produced a painting (and an engraved print from the painting) loosely based on these elections, entitled An Election Entertainment, which shows a placard carrying the slogan "Give us our Eleven Days" (on the floor, lower right). In his book Hogarth, His Life, Art and Times (1993), Ronald Paulson says of the picture that "the Oxfordshire people . are specifically rioting, as historically the London crowd did, to preserve the 'Eleven Days' the government stole from them in September 1752 by changing the calendar". [76] [s]

Thus, the 'calendar riot' fiction was born. The election campaign depicted concluded in 1754, after a very lengthy contest between Court Whigs and Jacobite Tories. Every issue between the two factions was brought up, including the question of calendar reform. The Tories attacked the Whigs for every deviation, including their alleged favouritism towards foreign Jews and the 'Popish' calendar. Hogarth's placard, part of a satire on the character of the debate, was not an observation of actual crowd behaviour. [77]

Financial concerns Edit

Three Market Days unto the Farmer's lost,
Yet three per Cent, is added to his Cost:
The Landlord calls for Rent before 'tis due,
King's Tax, and Windows, Poor, and Parson too
With Numbers more, our Grandsiers never knew.
Domestick Servants all will have their Pay,
And force their Masters e're the Quarter Day.

How shall the Wretch, then glean his Harvest in,
His Cash expended e're he does begin.
Or how the Miser cram his Bags with Pelf,
If that he don't receive it first himself?

True Briton, Bristol, 20 September 1752 [78] [t]

There were, however, legitimate concerns lest tax and other payments arise any earlier under the new calendar than they would otherwise have done. Consequently, Provision 6 of the Act ('Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities') stipulated that monthly, quarterly or yearly payments would not become due until the days that originally they would have done had the Julian calendar continued—that is, due dates were deferred by eleven days. [80]

The Earl of Macclesfield, in his speech to the House of Lords during the passage of the Bill, said a proportionate reduction in payments had been considered as an alternative solution. That is, maintaining the original payment dates but reducing the amounts due proportionately to reflect the omission of eleven days from the quarter ending on 29 September 1752 (Michaelmas Day). Macclesfield said this idea was abandoned because it would prove more complex than it first appeared. [81] Despite this, the Treasury later considered legislating to over-ride the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 provisions by applying proportionate reductions to government payments of interest, salaries and wages, but the idea was abandoned. [81] Nevertheless, the Treasury realised that outside government a proportionate reduction of wages, rents etc. for the short quarter might be convenient in some cases. Dr Robert Poole writes that the Treasury, "decided that a tidy move to new-style quarter day payments might gradually be achieved at the point where old leases expired and new ones began. Tables of abatements . for the eleven missing days were included in the official information about the changeover and widely published in the press, almanacs and pocket books". [81] For example, The True Briton newspaper of 20 September 1752 reported that the reduction was 7d for each pound or, more precisely, 7 + 1 ⁄ 4 d. [82] [u]

Religious dissent Edit

As already observed, the authors of the Act were careful to minimise the impact on religious sensitivities by expressing the revision in terms consistent with the traditions of the established Church of England, given the experience of previous attempts. By the middle of the 18th Century, however, it seems that the climate had changed somewhat. The traditional saints' days like Lady Day, Michaelmas and Martinmas had come to mark events in the civil calendar such as fair days, rent days and hiring days far more than they did days of special religious observance. Poole writes, "The religious calendar of the established church continued, but it encompassed a shrinking proportion of the population as Dissent expanded at the expense of Anglicanism, and as parish wakes, feasts and saints' days were themselves disowned by many parish clergy." [83] So the Act explicitly exempted fairs and marts from the calendar reform "that is, they were to change their nominal date to retain the same place in the season, thus in effect observing the Old Style". [84]

The revision to the Book of Common Prayer setting the new basis for calculating the date for Easter (and its associated events like Lent) appears to have passed without public controversy—"perhaps", Poole remarks, "because few people understood how Easter worked anyway". [27] The date of Christmas, however, proved to be a different matter. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, 23 January 1753, reported that a "vast concourse of people" in Somerset gathered at the (Christmas-flowering) Glastonbury thorn on 24 December 1752 (New Style) to test the authenticity of the new date. "[B]ut to their great disappointment, there was no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 5th of Jan. the Christmas-Day, Old-Stile, when it blow'd as usual." [85] The vicar of Glastonbury, however, later announced that it had in fact flowered nearer New Christmas Day. [85] William Dawson (1902) writes a Reverend Francis Blackburne opened his church on Friday, 5 January 1753—(O.S., 25 December 1752)—to a congregation which filled the building. "The people were sorely disappointed, however, when the rector did not use the service designated for Christmas Day but instead, like a crusading clergyman of the twentieth century, preached a sermon on the virtue of obeying the Calendar Act." [7]

Calendar Act 1751 Edit

The Calendar Act 1751 (25 Geo II c.30) was needed to rectify some unforeseen consequences of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. [86]

Section I of the 1751 Act concerned the legal validity of actions that were due to be executed on the omitted eleven days, 3 September to 13 September 1752. The Act provided that for 1752 only, those actions would be deemed to be lawful and to have effect on "the same natural days" as if the reform had not taken place. [86]

Section II addressed calendar dates associated with the opening of common land, the payment of rents, and other matters. Such legal acts as were governed by the dates of movable feasts would thenceforth conform to the dates of those feasts in the revised calendar. [86]

Section III provided that nothing should abridge, extend, or alter the titles of land. [86]

Section IV resolved the date for electing the Mayor of the City of London and also revised an unrelated Act (24 Geo II c.48) that had shortened the Michaelmas term. [86]

25 Geo II c.31 Edit

A similar issue was identified shortly afterwards with the date of the "annual election of mayor, sheriffs, treasurers, coroners, and leave-lookers" in Chester "to avoid the inconvenience which would arise to the citizens, from the alteration of the style bringing the ancient day of election into the fair week." The issue was resolved by appending a clause to an otherwise irrelevant Act, (25 Geo II c.31, [v] concerning distemper in cattle) to move its statutory date forward by a week. [88]

Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859 Edit

Section III of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 required the observation of certain days of political or religious significance. These are listed in a Table headed "Certain Solemn Days for which particular [church] Services are appointed" and are: 5 November (the Gunpowder Plot) 30 January (Execution of Charles I) and 29 May (The Restoration). [89]

As part of the development of religious and political toleration, Section I of the Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859 removed from various acts, including the Calendar Act, the obligation to commemorate these days with special church services. [90]

Easter Act 1928 Edit

The Easter Act 1928 was enacted to permit the date of Easter (as observed by the established church) to be fixed permanently, as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. [91] An Order in Council is needed for this act to come into force and no such order has been made. [92] If so ordered, the 1928 Act would replace the table of "Moveable and Immoveable Feasts" in the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. [93]

Statute Law Revision Act 1948 Edit

The Statute Law Revision Act 1948 simplified and removed some redundant words from Section VI of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, including the reference to the time at which the age of 21, or any other age, is reached. The provision about age could only affect those alive at the time of calendar reform. The 1948 Act also repealed the "Table to find Easter till the Year 1899 inclusive" and the "Table of the Moveable Feasts for Fifty two years". By 1948 these tables had ceased to be relevant and this Act deleted them. [94]

Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1971 Edit

The calendar included in the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 is headed "The Calendar, with the Table of Lessons". For each month the morning and evening prayers are specified. The Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1971 removed the words "with the Table of Lessons" and also all the specified prayers in the Table. The changes followed a Law Commission Report and reflected the views of the Church. [95]

Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1986 Edit

Section IV of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 has provisions about the dates for meetings of courts in Scotland. These were repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1986, following a report by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission. [96]

In his 1995 paper on the calendar reform, Dr Poole cites the Treasury Board Papers at the National Archives and explains that, after the omission of eleven days in September 1752, the national accounts carried on being drawn up to the same four quarter days as usual but their dates were moved on by eleven days "so that financial transactions should run their full natural term" (and thus Lady Day on 25 March Old Style became 5 April New Style). [97]


The Time Zone Effect

There are more than 24 different time zones in the world, which means that New Year’s is celebrated at different times throughout the world. The local time within the various time zones is defined by its difference to the world time standard or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). The time changes by plus or minus one hour corresponding with every 15 degrees west or east of the Prime Meridian (the zero degrees longitude). However, the borders of the international time zone map are not drawn up as precisely and are adjusted to align with national and international boundaries.


About New Year

New Year Day is the first day of the calendar year. It is celebrated as a holiday in almost every country in the world. It is a time of gaiety, sharing with friends, remembering the past, and hoping for good things in the future. In the United States, thousands of people jam Times Square in New York City to welcome the New Year at midnight. The transition between New Year's Eve and New Year Day is an exciting one. In Times Square, people count down the seconds to welcome the new day as the New Year ball slowly descends and lights up the area.

Not all countries or cultures celebrate New Year on January 1st. The Chinese, Egyptian, Jewish, Roman, and Mohammedan years all have different start dates. Chinese New Year starts on a different day each year. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians celebrated their New Year about the middle of June. That was the time when the Nile River usually overflowed. January 1was recognized as New Year Day in the 1500's with the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar. The Julian Calendar places the New Year on January 14. The Jewish New Year, a feast day, is celebrated about the time of the fall equinox, in late September.

In ancient Rome, the first day of the New Year honored Janus, the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings - the month of January, named after Janus, was originally called 'Januarius'. Janus had two faces - one which looked ahead to see what the new year would bring, and the other looked backward to see what happened during the past year. Ancient Romans celebrated New Year by giving gifts to friends and family members - some even gave gifts to Senators in exchange for favors!

In England, Druid priests celebrated their New Year on March 10. They gave branches of mistletoe to people for charms. Later, English people followed the custom of cleaning their chimneys on New Year Day. The English believed this brought good luck to the household for the coming year. The expression "cleaning the slate" came from this custom. It means making resolutions to correct faults and bad habits. People resolve to make themselves better in the New Year. It is still customary even today to make a list of New Year resolutions for the coming year.


Contents

The first day of the Iranian calendar falls on the March equinox, the first day of spring, around March 21. In the 11th century CE the Iranian calendar was reformed in order to fix the beginning of the calendar year, i.e. Nowruz, at the vernal equinox. Accordingly, the definition of Nowruz given by the Iranian scientist Tusi was the following: "the first day of the official New Year [Nowruz] was always the day on which the sun entered Aries before noon." [34] Nowruz is the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian solar calendar.

Etymology Edit

The word Nowruz is a combination of Persian words نو now—meaning "new"—and روز ruz—meaning "day". Pronunciation varies among Persian dialects, with Eastern dialects using the pronunciation [nawˈɾoːz] (as in Dari and Classical Persian, whereas in Tajik, it is written as "Наврӯз" Navröz), western dialects [nowˈɾuːz] , and Tehranis [noːˈɾuːz] . A variety of spelling variations for the word nowruz exist in English-language usage, including novruz, nowruz, nauruz and newroz. [35] [36]

Timing accuracy Edit

Nowruz's timing in Iran is based on Solar Hijri algorithmic calendar, which is based on precise astronomical observations, and moreover use of sophisticated intercalation system, which makes it more accurate than its European counterpart, the Gregorian calendar. [37]

Each 2820 year great grand cycle contains 2137 normal years of 365 days and 683 leap years of 366 days, with the average year length over the great grand cycle of 365.24219852. This average is just 0.00000026 (2.6×10 −7 ) of a day shorter than Newcomb's value for the mean tropical year of 365.24219878 days, but differs considerably more from the current average vernal equinox year of 365.242362 days, which means that the new year, intended to fall on the vernal equinox, would drift by half a day over the course of a cycle. [37] As the source explains, the 2820-year cycle is erroneous and has never been used in practice.

Charshanbe Suri Edit

Chaharshanbe Suri (Persian: چهارشنبه‌سوری ‎, romanized: čahâr-šanbeh sūrī (lit. "Festive Wednesday") is a prelude to the New Year. [ citation needed ] In Iran, it is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz. It is usually celebrated in the evening by performing rituals such as jumping over bonfires and lighting off firecrackers and fireworks. [38] [39]

In Azerbaijan, where the preparation for Novruz usually begins a month earlier, the festival is held every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday of Novruz. Each Tuesday, people celebrate the day of one of the four elements – water, fire, earth and wind. [40] On the holiday eve, the graves of relatives are visited and tended. [41]

Iranians sing the poetic line "my yellow is yours, your red is mine", which means my weakness to you and your strength to me (Persian: سرخی تو از من، زردی من از تو ‎, romanized: sorkhi to az man, zardi man az to) to the fire during the festival, asking the fire to take away ill-health and problems and replace them with warmth, health, and energy. Trail mix and berries are also served during the celebration.

Spoon banging ( قاشق زنی ) is a tradition observed on the eve of Charshanbe Suri, similar to the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating. In Iran, people wear disguises and go door-to-door banging spoons against plates or bowls and receive packaged snacks. In Azerbaijan, children slip around to their neighbors' homes and apartments on the last Tuesday prior to Novruz, knock at the doors, and leave their caps or little basket on the thresholds, hiding nearby to wait for candies, pastries and nuts. [40]

The ritual of jumping over fire has continued in Armenia in the feast of Trndez, which is a feast of purification in the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church, celebrated forty days after Jesus's birth. [42]

Sizdah bedar Edit

In Iran, the Nowruz holidays last thirteen days. On the thirteenth day of the New Year, Iranians leave their houses to enjoy nature and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdebedar ceremony. The greenery grown for the Haft-sin setting is thrown away, particularly into a running water. It is also customary for young single people, especially young girls, to tie the leaves of the greenery before discarding it, expressing a wish to find a partner. Another custom associated with Sizdah Bedar is the playing of jokes and pranks, similar to April Fools' Day [43]

Ancient roots Edit

There exist various foundation myths for Nowruz in Iranian mythology.

The Shahnameh credits the foundation of Nowruz to the mythical Iranian King Jamshid, who saves mankind from a winter destined to kill every living creature. [44] To defeat the killer winter, Jamshid constructed a throne studded with gems. He had demons raise him above the earth into the heavens there he sat, shining like the Sun. The world's creatures gathered and scattered jewels around him and proclaimed that this was the New Day (Now Ruz). This was the first day of Farvardin, which is the first month of the Iranian calendar. [45]

Although it is not clear whether Proto-Indo-Iranians celebrated a feast as the first day of the calendar, there are indications that Iranians may have observed the beginning of both autumn and spring, respectively related to the harvest and the sowing of seeds, for the celebration of the New Year. [46] Mary Boyce and Frantz Grenet explain the traditions for seasonal festivals and comment: "It is possible that the splendor of the Babylonian festivities at this season, led the Iranians to develop their own spring festival into an established New Year feast, with the name Navasarda "New Year" (a name which, though first attested through Middle Persian derivatives, is attributed to the Achaemenian period)." Akitu was the Babylonian festivity held during the spring month of Nisan in which Nowruz falls. Since the communal observations of the ancient Iranians appear in general to have been seasonal ones and related to agriculture, "it is probable that they traditionally held festivals in both autumn and spring, to mark the major turning points of the natural year." [46]

Nowruz is partly rooted in the tradition of Iranian religions, such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. In Mithraism, festivals had a deep linkage with the Sun's light. The Iranian festivals such as Mehregan (autumnal equinox), Tirgan, and the eve of Chelle ye Zemestan (winter solstice) also had an origin in the Sun god (Mithra). Among other ideas, Zoroastrianism is the first monotheistic religion that emphasizes broad concepts such as the corresponding work of good and evil in the world, and the connection of humans to nature. Zoroastrian practices were dominant for much of the history of ancient Iran. In Zoroastrianism, the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals are the six Gahambar festivals and Nowruz, which occurs at the spring equinox. According to Mary Boyce, [47] "It seems a reasonable surmise that Nowruz, the holiest of them all, with deep doctrinal significance, was founded by Zoroaster himself" although there is no clear date of origin. [48] Between sunset on the day of the sixth Gahambar and sunrise of Nowruz, Hamaspathmaedaya (later known, in its extended form, as Frawardinegan and today is known as Farvardigan) was celebrated. This and the Gahambars are the only festivals named in the surviving text of the Avesta.

The 10th-century scholar Biruni, in his work Kitab al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sina'at al-Tanjim, provides a description of the calendars of various nations. Besides the Iranian calendar, various festivals of Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Sabians, and other nations are mentioned in the book. In the section on the Iranian calendar, he mentions Nowruz, Sadeh, Tirgan, Mehrgan, the six Gahambars, Farvardigan, Bahmanja, Esfand Armaz and several other festivals. According to him, "It is the belief of the Iranians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion." [49] The Persian historian Gardizi, in his work titled Zayn al-Akhbār, under the section of the Zoroastrians festivals, mentions Nowruz (among other festivals) and specifically points out that Zoroaster highly emphasized the celebration of Nowruz and Mehrgan. [50] [51]

Achaemenid period Edit

Although the word Nowruz is not recorded in Achaemenid inscriptions, [52] there is a detailed account by Xenophon of a Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition. [53] Nowruz was an important day during the Achaemenid Empire ( c. 550–330 BCE ). Kings of the different Achaemenid nations would bring gifts to the King of Kings. The significance of the ceremony was such that King Cambyses II's appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the referred annual Achaemenid festival. [54]

It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and the Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating a feast related to Nowruz.

In 539 BCE, the Jews came under Iranian rule, thus exposing both groups to each other's customs. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the story of Purim as told in the Book of Esther is adapted from an Iranian novella about the shrewdness of harem queens, suggesting that Purim may be an adoption of Iranian New Year. [55] A specific novella is not identified and Encyclopædia Britannica itself notes that "no Jewish texts of this genre from the Persian period are extant, so these new elements can be recognized only inferentially". Purim is celebrated the 14 of Adar, usually within a month before Nowruz as the date of Purim is based on a Lunisolar calendar, while Nowruz occurs at the spring equinox. It is possible that the Jews and Iranians of the time may have shared or adopted similar customs for these holidays. [56] The Lunar new year of the Middle East occurs on 1 Nisan, the new moon of the first month of spring, which usually falls within a few weeks of Nowruz.

Parthian and Sassanid periods Edit

Nowruz was the holiday of Parthian dynastic empires who ruled Iran (248 BCE–224 CE) and the other areas ruled by the Arsacid dynasties outside of Parthia (such as the Arsacid dynasties of Armenia and Iberia). There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I (51–78 CE), but these include no details. [52] Before Sassanids established their power in Western Asia around 300 CE, Parthians celebrated Nowruz in autumn, and the first of Farvardin began at the autumn equinox. During the reign of the Parthian dynasty, the spring festival was Mehregan, a Zoroastrian and Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra. [57]

Extensive records on the celebration of Nowruz appear following the accession of Ardashir I, the founder of the Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE). Under the Sassanid emperors, Nowruz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Nowruz, such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanid era and persisted unchanged until modern times.

After the Muslim conquest Edit

Nowruz, along with the mid-winter celebration Sadeh, survived the Muslim conquest of Persia of 650 CE. Other celebrations such as the Gahambars and Mehrgan were eventually side-lined or only observed by Zoroastrians. Nowruz became the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period. Much like their predecessors in the Sasanian period, Dehqans would offer gifts to the caliphs and local rulers at the Nowruz and Mehragan festivals. [58]

Following the demise of the caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Iranian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Nowruz became an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the caliphate. The Iranian Buyid ruler 'Adud al-Dawla (r. 949–983) customarily welcomed Nowruz in a majestic hall, decked with gold and silver plates and vases full of fruit and colorful flowers. [59] The King would sit on the royal throne, and the court astronomer would come forward, kiss the ground, and congratulate him on the arrival of the New Year. [59] The king would then summon musicians and singers, and invited his friends to gather and enjoy a great festive occasion. [59]

Later Turkic and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz.

In 1079 AD during the Seljuq dynasty era, a group of 8 scholars led by astronomer and polymath Omar Khayyam calculated and established the Jalali calendar, computing the year starting from Nowruz.

Contemporary era Edit

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran and Afghanistan were the only countries that officially observed the ceremonies of Nowruz. When the Caucasian and Central Asian countries gained independence from the Soviets, they also declared Nowruz as a national holiday.

House cleaning and shopping Edit

House cleaning, or shaking the house (Persian: خانه تکانی ‎, romanized: xāne tekāni) is commonly done before the arrival of Nowruz. People start preparing for Nowruz with a major spring cleaning of their homes and by buying new clothes to wear for the New Year, as well as the purchase of flowers. The hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous. [64]

Visiting family and friends Edit

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to make short visits to the homes of family, friends and neighbors. Typically, young people will visit their elders first, and the elders return their visit later. Visitors are offered tea and pastries, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and mixed nuts or other snacks. Many Iranians throw large Nowruz parties in as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family. [65]

Haft-sin Edit

Typically, before the arrival of Nowruz, family members gather around the Haft-sin table and await the exact moment of the March equinox to celebrate the New Year. [66] [67] The number 7 and the letter S are related to the seven Ameshasepantas as mentioned in the Zend-Avesta. They relate to the four elements of Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and the three life forms of Humans, Animals and Plants. In modern times the explanation was simplified to mean that the Haft-sin (Persian: هفت‌سین ‎, seven things beginning with the letter sin (س)) are:

  • Sabze (Persian: سبزه ‎) – wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish. (Persian: سمنو ‎) – sweet pudding made from wheat germ
  • Persian olive (Persian: سنجد ‎, romanized:senjed) (Persian: سرکه ‎, romanized:serke)
  • Apple (Persian: سیب ‎, romanized:sib)
  • Garlic (Persian: سیر ‎, romanized:sir) (Persian: سماق ‎, romanized:somāq)

The Haft-sin table may also include a mirror, candles, painted eggs, a bowl of water, goldfish, coins, hyacinth, and traditional confectioneries. A "book of wisdom" such as the Quran, Bible, Avesta, the Šāhnāme of Ferdowsi, or the divān of Hafez may also be included. [66] Haft-sin's origins are not clear. The practice is believed to have been popularized over the past 100 years. [68]

Haft Mēwa Edit

In Afghanistan, people prepare Haft Mēwa (Dari: هفت میوه ‎, English: seven fruits ) for Nauruz, a mixture of seven different dried fruits and nuts (such as raisins, silver berry, pistachios, hazelnuts, prunes, walnut, and almonds) served in syrup. [69]

Khoncha Edit

Khoncha (Azerbaijani: Xonça) is the traditional display of Novruz in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It consists of a big silver or copper tray, with a tray of green, sprouting wheat (samani) in the middle and a dyed egg for each member of the family arranged around it. The table should be with at least seven dishes. [40]

Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz Edit

In Iran, the traditional heralds of the festival of Nowruz are Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz, who appear in the streets to celebrate the New Year.

Amu Nowruz brings children gifts, much like his counterpart Santa Claus. [70] He is the husband of Nane Sarma, with whom he shares a traditional love story in which they can meet each other only once a year. [71] [72] He is depicted as an elderly silver-haired man with a long beard carrying a walking stick, wearing a felt hat, a long cloak of blue canvas, a sash, giveh, and linen trousers. [73]

Haji Firuz, a character with his face and hands covered in soot, clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat, is the companion of Amu Nowruz. He dances through the streets while singing and playing the tambourine. In the traditional songs, he introduces himself as a serf trying to cheer people whom he refers to as his lords. [74]

Kampirak Edit

In the folklore of Afghanistan, Kampirak and his retinue pass village by village distributing gathered charities among people. He is an old bearded man wearing colorful clothes with a long hat and rosary who symbolizes beneficence and the power of nature yielding the forces of winter. The tradition is observed in central provinces, specially Bamyan and Daykundi. [75]

Nauryz kozhe Edit

In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs start the new year by cooking nauryz kozhe or nooruz koze, a traditional drink. [76]

The festival of Nowruz is celebrated by many groups of people in the Black Sea basin, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Western Asia, central and southern Asia, and by Iranian peoples worldwide. [77]

Places where Nowruz is a public holiday include:

  • Afghanistan [78]
  • Albania [1] [failed verification] [2]
  • Azerbaijan (five days) [79][80]
  • Georgia [81]
  • Iran (thirteen days) [82]
  • Iraqi Kurdistan [83]
  • Kazakhstan (four days) [10]
  • Kosovo [citation needed]
  • Kyrgyzstan [84][85] , Mongolia [86]
  • Tajikistan (four days) [16][87]
  • Turkmenistan (two days) [88][89]

Nowruz is celebrated by Kurds in Iraq [9] [90] and Turkey, [91] as well as by the Iranis, Shias and Parsis in the Indian subcontinent and diaspora.

Nowruz is also celebrated by Iranian communities in the Americas and in Europe, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Toronto, Cologne and London. [92] In Phoenix, Arizona, Nowruz is celebrated at the Persian New Year Festival. [93] But because Los Angeles is prone to devastating fires, there are very strict fire codes in the city. Usually, Iranians living in Southern California go to the beaches to celebrate the event where it is permissible to build fires. [94] On March 15, 2010, the United States House of Representatives passed the Nowruz Resolution (H.Res. 267), by a 384–2 vote, [95] "Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz, . ." [96]

Afghanistan Edit

Nowruz marks Afghanistan's New Year's Day with the Solar Hijri Calendar as their official calendar. In Afghanistan, the festival of Gul-i-Surkh (Dari: گل سرخ ‎, English: red flower ) is the principal festival for Nauruz. It is celebrated in Mazar-i-Sharif during the first 40 days of the year, when red tulips grow in the green plains and over the hills surrounding the city. People from all over the country travel to Mazar-i-Sharif to attend the Nauruz festivals. Buzkashi tournaments are held during the Gul-i-Surkh festival in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and other northern Afghan cities.

Jahenda Bala (Dari: جهنده بالا ‎ English: raising ) is celebrated on the first day of the New Year. [97] It is a religious ceremony performed at the Blue Mosque of Mazar-i-Sharif by raising a special banner resembling the Derafsh Kaviani royal standard. It is attended by high-ranking government officials such as the Vice-President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors and is the biggest recorded Nawroz gathering, with up to 200,000 people from all over Afghanistan attending.

In the festival of Dehqān (Dari: دهقان ‎ English: farmer ), also celebrated on the first day of the New Year, farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural production. In recent years, this activity only happens in Kabul and other major cities where the mayor and other government officials attend.

During the first two weeks of the New Year, the citizens of Kabul hold family picnics in Istalif, Charikar and other green places where redbuds grow.

During the Taliban regime of 1996–2001, Nauruz was banned as "an ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship". [98]

Albania Edit

Nevruz is celebrated annually in Albania on 22 March as Sultan Nevruz. In Albania, the festival commemorates the birthday of Ali ibn Abi Talib (died 661 CE) and simultaneously the advent of spring. It is prominent amongst the nations' Bektashis, but adherents of Sunnism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy also "share in the nevruz festival to respect the ecumenical spirit of Albania".

Armenia Edit

Since the 19th century, Nowruz has not generally been celebrated by Armenians and is not a public holiday in Armenia. However, it is celebrated in Armenia by tens of thousands of Iranian tourists who visit Armenia with relative ease. [99] The influx of tourists from Iran accelerated since around 2010–11. [100] [101] In 2010 alone, around 27,600 Iranians spent Nowruz in capital Yerevan. [102]

In 2015, President Serzh Sargsyan sent a letter of congratulations to Kurds living in Armenia and to the Iranian political leadership on the occasion of Nowruz. [103]

Azerbaijan Edit

In Azerbaijan, Novruz celebrations go on for several days and included festive public dancingfolk music, and sporting competitions. In rural areas, crop holidays are also marked. [104]

Communities of the Azeri diaspora also celebrate Nowruz in the US, Canada, [105] and Israel. [106]

Bangladesh Edit

In Bangladesh, Shia Muslims in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna continue to celebrate it regularly. However, tradition goes back to historical East Bengal's link to the Mughal Empire the empire celebrated the festival for 19 days with pomp and gaiety. [107] [108] Shia Muslims in Bangladesh have been seen spraying water around their home and drinking that water to keep themselves protected from diseases. A congregation to seek divine blessing is also arranged. Members of the Nawab family of Dhaka used to celebrate it amid pomp and grounder. In the evening, they used to float thousands of candle lights in nearby ponds and water bodies. Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam portrayed a vivid sketch of the festival highlighting its various aspects. In his poem, he described it as a platform of exposing a youth's physical and mental beauty to another opposite one for conquering his or her heart. [109]

Central Asia Edit

Nowruz widely celebrated on a vast territory of Central Asia and ritual practice acquired its special features. [110] The festival was legitimized by prayers at mosques, and visits to the mazars of Muslim saints and to sacred streams. In the Emirate of Bukhara, a broad official celebration of Nowruz was started by Amir Muzaffar, who sought to strengthen the image of the Manghyt dynasty during the crisis of political legitimacy. [111]

China Edit

Traditionally, Nowruz is celebrated mainly in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Uyghurs, Chinese Tajik, Salar, and Kazakh ethnicities. [4]

Georgia Edit

Nowruz is not celebrated by Georgians, but it is widely celebrated by the country's large Azerbaijani minority (

7% of the total population) [112] as well as by Iranians living in Georgia. [112] [113] Every year, large festivities are held in the capital Tbilisi, as well as in areas with a significant number of Azerbaijanis, such as the Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Shida Kartli, and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regions. [112] Georgian politicians have attended the festivities in the capital over the years, and have congratulated the Nowruz-observing ethnic groups and nationals in Georgia on the day of Nowruz. [114] [115]

India Edit

The Parsi community of India observe the new year using the Shahenshahi calendar which does not account for leap years, meaning this holiday has now moved by 200 days from its original day of the vernal equinox. In India the Parsi New Year is celebrated around August 16–17.

Tradition of Nowruz in Northern India dates back to the Mughal Empire the festival was celebrated for 19 days with pomp and gaiety in the realm. [107] [108] However, it further goes back to the Parsi Zoroastrian community in Western India, who migrated to the Indian subcontinent from Persia during the Muslim conquest of Persia of 636–651 CE. In the Princely State of Hyderabad, Nowruz (Nauroz) was one of the four holidays where the Nizam would hold a public Darbar, along with the two official Islamic holidays and the sovereign's birthday. [116] Prior to Asaf Jahi rule in Hyderabad, the Qutb Shahi dynasty celebrated Nowruz with a ritual called Panjeri, and the festival was celebrated by all with great grandeur. [117] Kazi Nazrul Islam, during the Bengal renaissance, portrayed the festival with vivid sketch and poems, highlighting its various aspects. [109]

Iran Edit

Nowruz is two-week celebration that marks the beginning of the New Year in Iran's official Solar Hijri calendar. [118] [119] The celebration includes four public holidays from the first to the fourth day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian calendar, usually beginning on March 21. [120] On the Eve of Nowruz, the fire festival Chaharshanbe Suri is celebrated. [121]

Following the 1979 Revolution, some radical elements from the Islamic government attempted to suppress Nowruz, [122] considering it a pagan holiday and a distraction from Islamic holidays. Nowruz has been politicized, with political leaders making annual Nowruz speeches. [123]

Kurds Edit

Newroz is largely considered as a potent symbol of Kurdish identity in Turkey, even if there are some Turks (including Turkmens) celebrating the festival. The Kurds of Turkey celebrate this feast between 18th till March 21. Kurds gather into fairgrounds mostly outside the cities to welcome spring. Women wear colored dresses and spangled head scarves and young men wave flags of green, yellow and red, the historic colors of Kurdish people. They hold this festival by lighting fire and dancing around it. [124] Newroz has seen many bans in Turkey and can only be celebrated legally since 1992 after the ban on the Kurdish language was lifted. But also afterwards Newroz celebrations could be banned and lead to confrontations with the Turkish authority. In Cizre, Nusyabin and Şırnak celebrations turned violent as Turkish police forces fired in the celebrating crowds. [125] Newroz celebrations are usually organized by Kurdish cultural associations and pro-Kurdish political parties. Thus, the Democratic Society Party was a leading force in the organisation of the 2006 Newroz events throughout Turkey. In recent years, the Newroz celebration gathers around 1 million participants in Diyarbakır, the biggest city of the Kurdish dominated Southeastern Turkey. As the Kurdish Newroz celebrations in Turkey often are theater for political messages, the events are frequently criticized for being political rallies rather than cultural celebrations.

Until 2005, the Kurdish population of Turkey could not celebrate their New Year openly. [126] "Thousands of people have been detained in Turkey, as the authorities take action against suspected supporters of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK. [127] The holiday is now official in Turkey after international pressure on the Turkish government to lift culture bans. Turkish government renamed the holiday Nevroz in 1995. [128] In the recent years, limitations on expressions of Kurdish national identity, including the usage of Kurdish in the public sphere, have been considerably relaxed.

On March 21, 2013, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a ceasefire through a message that was released in Diyarbakır during the Newroz celebrations. [129]

In Syria, the Kurds dress up in their national dress and celebrate the New Year. [130] According to Human Rights Watch, the Kurds have had to struggle to celebrate Newroz, and in the past the celebration has led to violent oppression, leading to several deaths and mass arrests. [131] The Syrian Arab Ba'athist government stated in 2004 that the Newroz celebrations will be tolerated as long as they do not become political demonstrations. [132] During the Newroz celebrations in 2008, three Kurds were shot dead by Syrian security forces. [133] [134] In March 2010, an attack by Syrian police left 2 or 3 people killed, one of them a 15-year-old girl, and more than 50 people wounded. [135] The Rojava revolution of 2012 and the subsequent establishment of the de facto Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria saw Kurdish civil rights greatly expand, and Newroz is now celebrated freely in most Kurdish areas of Syria except for Efrin, where the ritual is no longer allowed since the 2018 occupation by Turkish-backed rebel groups. [136]

Kurds in the diaspora also celebrate the New Year for example, Kurds in Australia celebrate Newroz, not only as the beginning of the new year, but also as the Kurdish National Day. The Kurds in Finland celebrate the new year as a way of demonstrating their support for the Kurdish cause. [137] Also in London, organizers estimated that 25,000 people celebrated Newroz during March 2006. [138]

Pakistan Edit

In Pakistan, Nowruz is typically celebrated in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, [139] Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially near the border with Afghanistan, and across Balochistan, with a large celebration held in the capital of Quetta. [140] Recently, the government of Iran has become involved in hosting celebrations in Islamabad to commemorate the holiday. [140] Like in India, the Parsi and Ismaili communities have historically celebrated the holiday, [141] as have some Shi'a Muslims. [12]

Followers of the Zoroastrian faith include Nowruz in their religious calendar, as do followers of other faiths. [142] Shia literature refers to the merits of the day of Nowruz the Day of Ghadir took place on Nowruz and the fatwas of major Shia scholars [143] recommend fasting. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufis, Bektashis, Ismailis, Alawites, [144] Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Baháʼí Faith. [145]

Baháʼí Faith Edit

Naw-Rúz is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Baháʼí Faith worldwide. It is the first day of the Baháʼí calendar, occurring on the vernal equinox around March 21. [146] The Baháʼí calendar is composed of 19 months, each of 19 days, [147] and each of the months is named after an attribute of God similarly each of the nineteen days in the month also are named after an attribute of God. [147] The first day and the first month were given the attribute of Bahá, an Arabic word meaning splendour or glory, and thus the first day of the year was the day of Bahá in the month of Bahá. [146] [148] Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, explained that Naw-Rúz was associated with the Most Great Name of God, [146] [148] and was instituted as a festival for those who observed the Nineteen-Day Fast. [149] [150]

The day is also used to symbolize the renewal of time in each religious dispensation. [151] ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son and successor, explained that significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of spring and the new life it brings. [146] He explained that the equinox is a symbol of the messengers of God and the message that they proclaim is like a spiritual springtime, and that Naw-Rúz is used to commemorate it. [152]

As with all Baháʼí holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Rúz, and Baháʼís all over the world celebrate it as a festive day, according to local custom. [146] Persian Baháʼís still observe many of the Iranian customs associated with Nowruz such as the Haft-sin, but American Baháʼí communities, for example, may have a potluck dinner, along with prayers and readings from Baháʼí scripture.

Twelver and Ismaili Shia Edit

Along with Ismailis, [153] [154] Alawites and Alevis, the Twelver Shia also hold the day of Nowruz in high regard.

It has been said that Musa al-Kadhim, the seventh Twelver Shia imam, has explained Nowruz and said: "In Nowruz God made a covenant with His servants to worship Him and not to allow any partner for Him. To welcome His messengers and obey their rulings. This day is the first day that the fertile wind blew and the flowers on the earth appeared. The archangel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet, and it is the day that Abraham broke the idols. The day Prophet Muhammad held Ali on his shoulders to destroy the Quraishie's idols in the house of God, the Kaaba." [155]

The day upon which Nowruz falls has been recommended as a day of fasting for Twelver Shia Muslims by Shia scholars, including Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei, Ruhollah Khomeini [156] and Ali al-Sistani. [157] The day also assumes special significance for Shias as it has been said that it was on March 16, 632 AD that the first Shia Imam, Ali, assumed the office of caliphate. Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims around the globe celebrate Nowruz as a religious festival. Special prayers and Majalis are arranged in Jamatkhanas. Special foods are cooked and people share best wishes and prayers with each other.


In the United States and many other countries around the world, January 1, the first day of the Gregorian calendar, ushers in a new year replete with New Year’s resolutions and promises to do better than in the year before. The day begins with hangover concoctions for some and, for others, prayers of gratitude for surviving to see a new year filled with promise. But how did this holiday begin? It’s a very old story.

Most civilizations aligned their calendars with the moon. The ancient Mesopotamians and Babylonians observed the new year over 4,000 years ago. For them, a new year followed the phases of the moon and the vernal equinox — when sunlight and darkness were equally balanced.

The Babylonians ritualized the vernal equinox with Akitu, a religious observance spanning 11 days. The Egyptians marked the new year with the flooded waters of the Nile and the star, Sirius. To this very day, the Chinese New Year arrives with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

The evolution from the lunar calendar to today’s Gregorian calendar commences with the early Roman calendar devised by Romulus, allegedly suckled by wolves who, along with his brother, Remus, founded Rome. The original Roman calendar was introduced in the 8th century at the start of the vernal equinox (when the light and the darkness are equal, remember?) with 10 months and 304 days. Another Roman king, Numa Pompilius added Januarius and Februarius.

Most historians credit the Roman emperor Julius Caesar with developing the Julian calendar, designating January 1 as the start of a new year. The Gregorian calendar, which many nations around the world use today, arrived in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII aligned the calendar, not with the moon, but with the earth’s rotation around the sun — marking 365 days.


New Year's as a Holy Day

A solemnity is the highest ranking holy day in the Church calendar. The Solemnity of Mary is a liturgical feast day honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary's motherhood in the wake of the birth of the baby Jesus Christ. This holiday is also the Octave of Christmas or the 8th day of Christmas. As Mary's fiat reminds the faithful: "Be it done unto me according to Thy word."

New Year's Day has been associated with the Virgin Mary since the earliest days of Catholicism when many of the faithful in both the East and West would celebrate with a feast in her honor. Other early Catholics observed the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Jan. 1. It wasn't until the introduction of the Novus Ordo in 1965, that the Feast of the Circumcision was set aside, and the ancient practice of dedicating Jan. 1 to the Mother of God was revived as a universal feast.


Watch the video: E41 Ms Yeahs new years eve dinner at office. Ms Yeah (January 2022).