Why Not Celebrate New Year’s Day in March?

Why does the New Year start in January? Why not a nicer, more optimistic month, like March? Well, it used to start in March. Which explained why the last four months of the year were named after numbers. September (septem) was the 7th month, October (octo) the 8th, November (novem) the ninth, and December (decem) the 10th.

But then along came Julius Caesar. He thought January would be more appropriate, since it was named after Janus, the god of doors and gates. That started in 45 B.C. So when Jesus came along, January had already been imposed across the Roman Empire.

The 5th month used to be called Quintilis (quint=5), but Caesar changed it to Julius to honor himself. The next emperor, Augustus, did likewise with the sixth month, which had been Sextilis. All the previous months were already named after gods–Janus, Februus, Mars, Aphrodite, Maia, Juno.

After the Roman Empire went away, January fell out of favor. Countries did their own thing. March became popular. But in 1582, Pope Gregory created the Gregorian calendar, which restored January 1 as New Year’s Day.

The British Empire didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752, which means the Founding Fathers grew up celebrating the New Year in March. Russia held off until after the Revolution in 1917. So godless communists also preferred the Pope’s calendar, apparently.

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