Here we are once again at the end of another year, and it’s time to engage in a favorite pastime of many writers and artist I like to call Questioning the Universe.
My random thought for December 31, 2016 is why today? Why have designated this day to be the end of the year and January 1st to be the beginning of the next? It’s not a solstice or equinox or any other significant celestial event.
I’ve done some research and found that the day was dedicated to Roman deity Janus, god of gateways and beginnings. The first time the new year was celebrated on this day was in Rome in 153 BC. Never mind that the month of January did not exist until sometime around 700 BC. January 1st was the day new consuls took office and Romans had commonly used the name of the two consuls to identify a specific year in question. Thus, by officially making January 1 start the New Year.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII set the date to liturgically mark the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. While the Catholic realms quickly adopted the Gregorian calendar, the rest of the was slow to accept the concept. Britain and her colonies did not get around to it for another 170 years.
So there you have it, an arbitrary date based on appropriated pagan beliefs and ancient bureaucratic expediencies. For my part all I can do is wish you all a happy, heathy and safe New Year.
Please celebrate responsibly.