Originally observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, New Year's Day first came to be fixed at January 1 in 153 BC, when the two Roman consuls, after whom - in the Roman calendar - years were named and numbered, began to be chosen on that date. However in AD 525, Dionysius Exiguus set the start of the Julian calendar at March 25  to commemorate the Annunciation of Jesus; a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages to mark the New Year, while calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December in the Roman fashion.
Among the 7th century druidic pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year, a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion Ouen.
Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. This is sometimes called Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from 25 December.
AULD LANG SYNE
The song, "Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."
Happy New Year! I'll be at work tonight. John Wilson.
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