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  Weekly Feature: (December 28, 2003)

Happy New Year!
Pat's Weekly Feature


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 Sales?

Weekly Feature Index (Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)


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