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|New Year's Day
The celebration of the first day of a new year has been observed since ancient times, but not always on January 1.
March 25 was the usual date for beginning the new year in most Christian countries in the Middle Ages, and England and the American colonies retained this date until September 14, 1752, even though the Gregorian calendar adopted by many countries on October 15, 1582, at the decree of Pope Gregory XIII, had fixed the date as January 1.
Ecclesiastically the New Year celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision. The Jewish New Year, which opens with the month Tishri (roughly September), is called the Feast of Trumpets. The Chinese celebrate the day, or rather several days, as the greatest festival of the year, which falls, according to their lunar calendar, anywhere between January 21 and February 19.
In Scotland, New Year's Day is the national holiday, and its celebration is the real feast day, Christmas taking the form of a purely religious festival. In France, New Year's is the holiday when gifts are exchanged.
The famous Philadelphia Mummers' Parade, which originated in colonial times among Swedish settlers, is one of the oldest of local American New Years' celebrations. Among other pageantry events is the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, inaugurated in 1890, and a series of major college football bowl games.
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This page was last updated on 01/01/2019.