New Year's Day - First Day of the Year for Western Civilisation

December 29, 2018

1 January (Gregorian or “New Style” calendar) marks the first day of the new year for Western civilisation - originating from Gregorian Christendom - and now followed by many other parts of the world that Western civilisation indelibly influenced.

With so many now using the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is the world’s most unifying and united, celebrated public holiday. New Year’s Eve parties are held to see in the New Year with town and city councils often putting on impressive fireworks displays in public spaces that begin at the stroke of midnight. Another tradition is making New Year's 'resolutions' - though many are not kept.

Whilst many countries and religions retain their own calendars for birthdays and cultural events (eg China and many parts of Asia), close to all countries use the Gregorian or Western calendar for official and international matters.

  • The North Korean (or Juche) calendar, for instance, uses Gregorian days and year lengths but the year count starts with the birth of its founder, Kim Il-Sung, in 1912.

The Julian (or “Old Style”) calendar is still used (predominantly) in both the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches and by the Berbers (parts of northern Africa).

The Gregorian calendar – now the world’s most widely used civil calendar – corrected the widely used Julian calendar whose leap years (one every four years, without exception) were getting out of sync with the astronomical seasons. Over the centuries since Julius Caesar's day in the late BC era, Caesar's eponymous Julian calendar year had grown out of sync with astronomical seasons, equinoxes and solstices - by three days every 400 years (or 0.0075 days per year). By the late 1500s, this misalignment had expanded to 10 days (and growing).

It also meant that the Christian holy celebration of Easter and associated feasts – whose date was tied to the Spring equinox (northern hemisphere) – had seasonally drifted from when it had been introduced and celebrated since by the early church.

  • Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar according to the ecclesiastical rules of Christianity – within about seven days of the first astronomical full moon after the 21 March equinox.

Pope Gregory XIII introduced throughout the then Roman Catholic world (many European countries and their overseas colonies) in October 1582 the “New Style” calendar. The 'Gregorian Calendar' pared back the number of leap years (by 3 every 400 years) and skipped a full ten days – jumping from the 4th to the 15th of October in 1582 – to return the equinox to 21 March (and maintain it there).

Protestant and Eastern Orthodox countries would adopt the Gregorian calendar over the next three centuries (calling it the “Improved calendar”) with Greece the last European country to do so in 1923. Globalisation (not to be confused with globalism) over the last century has seen most non-Western countries follow suit for civil, practical and integration purposes.

Great Britain and its colonies did not dispense with the Julian calendar - due to the Church of England's resistance to a 'popish' Gregorian calendar – for nearly 170 years, specifically September 1752. (This was less than four decades before Australia was first settled). By that stage, Britain had to skip 11 days (not the 10 in 1582), reportedly causing riots and mobs in the streets to yell, “Give us back our eleven days”. As the City of London refused to pay taxes 11 days early, the British financial year was altered to begin on 6 April (which it maintains today).

The creation and adoption of the Gregorian calendar was the intersection of (astronomical) science, church and civil society – advancing civilisation, societies and the well-being of their peoples. 

Celebrate New Year’s Day (Gregorian calendar) by:

  • making a New Year’s resolution of significance and value that you will truly keep
  • reaching out to friends or family members you may not ordinarily see the New Year in with
  • browsing the numerous links provided above to learn more on how our current calendar (essentially that now used by the world, officially or civilly) evolved and its value to everyday life
  • brush up on the history of a popular song for New Year's Eve, Auld Lang Syne, with the <3 minute National Geographic video (embedded below)
  • reflecting on the huge impact Christendom throughout the ages has had on Western civilisation and bringing others in from the dark and the cold, and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, conservatives, classical liberals and those that want to continue enjoying the fruits of Christian-based civilisation and Western order.

More information

  • The seven-day week was not affected by the shift from the Julian to Gregorian calendar. The seven-day week was formalised by Roman Emperor and Christian convert, Constantine I (the Great), in 321 AD who made Sunday – the Christian Sabbath – the first day of the week and Saturday – the Jewish day of rest – the seventh and last.
  • AD or Anno Domini (Latin for 'the year of our Lord') refers to the years after the birth of Jesus Christ aka the Christian Era, which has been secularised to the 'Common Era' (CE) and similarly BC 'Before Christ' to 'Before Common Era'.
  • Whilst most countries have financial or fiscal years that are calendar-based, many others begin theirs on 1 April (eg the governments of Japan and Canada, and the private entities of NZ), 1 July (eg Australia) or otherwise (eg Britain). Such differences can be due to historical happenstance but also to avoid peak workloads during popular holiday periods (eg stocktakes, wrapping up and closing the books for the year and finalising reports and taxes).

    • The financial or fiscal year is typically denoted by the calendar year in which it ends.

 

 

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