New Year's Day—what could be more natural than
to celebrate the first day of the year. Festivals for the New
Year are among the oldest and most universally observed. Rites
and ceremonies symbolize coming to terms with the past,
cleansing hearts and souls of sins and ill fortune or
celebrating life's renewal. The results of these rites are
believed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Over time,
the good ones become traditions.
People all over the world and throughout
history have adopted many New Year traditions. On the surface
what people do may appear different but a closer look show a
number of similarities.
For most, it is a time to spend time in the
company of family and friends; clean; celebrate with food,
songs, and gifts; and resolve to become a better person. The
details may vary but their essence is the same: to do everything
possible to ensure a good year.
For Canada, the new year begins on January 1,
but the choice of this date as New Year Day was quite arbitrary.
It has no special significance other than the calendar adopted
by most of the world has it as the first day of its year.
There are modern cultures that celebrate their
new year at other times. The earliest known record showed the
New Year's festival was sensibly held late in the spring, when
new crops were planted and life begins anew. In the intervening
4000 years the New Year celebration has evolved to when and what
we are familiar with today.
For more information on New Year's Day, check
out the sites below.
History, Traditions, and Customs
More on New Year's Around the World
New Year's in Many Countries
A Quiz on New Year's Traditions Around the World
Visit Last Week's Feature:
Boxing Day—Day of Giving or Day of
Feature Index (Includes all 2002
to date Weekly Features with descriptions)
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