New Year’s Day : January 1st

Picture of friends celebrating the new year

The 1st article goes to the first day of the year commonly known as the “Jour de l’an. Yes, it is most likely a public holiday in most countries (excepted Ethiopia, Israel, China, etc.) but here is the French reason why.

January 1st hasn’t always been the first day of the year in France. It changed many times depending on popular beliefs, the Churches, the Eras, etc. During the Roman Era, it was March 1st. It’s only in 45 BCE that Julius Caesar fixed it to January 1st in reference to Janus, the two-face Roman God, guardian of the Doors from which one enters and exits. One face looks toward the past while the other looks toward the future. Perfect symbol for the day of transition between two years.  It then changed for March 1st between 6 and 7 CE under the Venetian influence, to December 25th under Charlemagne in 9 CE, to Easter’s Saturday in 10 CE, etc. In 1564, the French King Charles IX introduced the law that harmonized January 1st as the beginning of the year in his kingdom.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII expands the use of the same date to the catholic Europe through his Gregorian calendar. Then it changed a few more times until Napoleon brings it back to January 1st in 1806. However, it only became a legal holiday on March 23rd 1810 thanks to the Board of State who made it a popular tradition rather than a religious one.

And just for fun: happy new yeaaaaar 🥳


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