By: Erika Axe
While the histories of many holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are very clear on their origins and purposes—New Year’s is a holiday of new beginnings whose origin remains a mystery because there are so many different New Year’s in different cultures. The January 1 New Year’s that the United States celebrates, actually originates from Julius Caesar, who established the day in 46 BCE. And what makes January the month of new beginnings? January was actually named for the Roman deity, Janus, the god of doors and gates. His ability to look both back and forward made him an ideal choice for new beginnings.
New Year’s is now, of course, celebrated much differently than it had been in the time of the Roman Empire, but its importance as an annual fresh start for the world to experience together is an attractive offer that makes it one of the most popular holidays around the world. In countries like Japan, New Year’s is the most important holiday of the year—for many who don’t celebrate any of December’s many festivities such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, New Year’s is the best holiday to celebrate family and friends and good feelings. Countries like China have their own version of New Year’s as well, the Roman Empire wasn’t alone in realizing a fresh start for everyone was needed. This February 10, anyone can experience the celebration of the year of the snake by heading to Manhattan’s Chinatown. Whether just trying out the cuisine, watching dragons dance throughout the streets, or blasting off a bit of the confetti that remains all year long, the experience is certainly one to compare with the traditional American version of the holiday.
In the United States, New Year’s has always been a holiday of kicking the new year off by watching the famous Times Square ball drop. Within the JCHS population, it wouldn’t be unlikely to see a couple of students actually in Manhattan for the big event, thanks to the proximity between the city and the Caldwells. New Years is usually the holiday that ends Christmas break with a bang in this district, many share the typical American New Year’s tradition of attending a party with family and friends. The holiday is all about starting new, and many realize that a promising new year is best started off surrounded by the best people in their life. And for the same reason that much of the world celebrates this holiday, the status as a non-denominational day of celebration makes it easy to spend it with whoever is wanted.
All over the world, people celebrate New Year’s as a day to have fun with family and friends. Whether it’s a fresh start for JCHS or a way to make resolutions and hopes for the newest year—there are a number of ways to celebrate and enjoy the global need for change and new beginnings. Enjoy 2013, because it can only be lived once!