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Episode
13

Why is New Year, New Year

Dec 31, 2019
History
-
10
minutes
Romans
Weird history

Have you ever wondered why January 1st is the start of the new year?

In today's episode we'll discuss the history of new year, talk about the longest year ever (it had 445 days), and you'll find out why new year is celebrated on January 1st, and not on any of the other 364 days of the year.

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Transcript

[00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:08] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:10] Today, it's December the 31st, New Year's Eve, and I'm sure you no doubt have more pressing concerns than listening to an English podcast.

[00:00:20] So today's one will be a little shorter than most, but will leave you with some food for thought and even perhaps a conversation starter for this evening for those of you lucky to be off to an exciting New Year's party. 

[00:00:36] I'll be celebrating New Year with my almost three month old baby in a slightly different way than usual.

[00:00:42] He is normally up at midnight though, so I guess we will be bringing in the New Year and the new decade together. 

[00:00:51] If this is the first time you're listening to the podcast, then you can grab a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:02] If you've already got the transcript and key vocabulary in front of you, then congratulations. You are one step ahead of the pack. 

[00:01:12] Right. 

[00:01:13] So today we are going to be talking about something very topical, something very timely.

[00:01:20] We are going to be talking about New Year. Specifically, why is New Year, New Year?

[00:01:28] Tonight, the sun will set or depending on when you're listening to this, maybe it is already set and it'll seem like an evening like any other. 

[00:01:38] And tomorrow the sun will rise and a new day will start and it will look a lot like today, and a lot like the day after that.

[00:01:45] But it's not, at least from a calendar point of view. 

[00:01:48] Today is December the 31st, which means that it's the last day of the last month of the year, which makes it the last day of the year, at least in the calendar observed by most of the world. 

[00:02:01] So tomorrow, January the first is New Year's day. It's the first day of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:02:08] But have you ever wondered why this is the day that the year starts? Yes, January is the first month, but why is it the first month? Why does New Year start on the day we call January the first, not on the one that we call January the 14th of July the seventh or October the eighth? 

[00:02:28] So today, this is what we are going to talk about. 

[00:02:32] So the concept of the New Year isn't new at all. 

[00:02:36] The earliest recorded New Year's festivity goes back to ancient Babylon around 4,000 years ago. 

[00:02:44] For the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia, the first new moon following the Vernal Equinox, that's the day in late March with the equal amount of sunlight and darkness, marked the start of a New Year and represented the rebirth of the natural world. 

[00:03:03] Humans had the concept of the year, but relied on the stars and the moon, not their phones as we do today, to calculate when it was.

[00:03:13] The Romans, as well, used to celebrate the New Year and did so at a similar time to the Babylonians in late March. 

[00:03:21] Their calendar only had 10 months or 304 days, and so it was constantly falling out of sync with the solar calendar, which, as you will know, has 365 days. 

[00:03:33] So they constantly had to add more days to the year. 

[00:03:37] Julius Caesar, when he became emperor, decided that he wanted to fix this.

[00:03:43] So he consulted the, the wise man at the time and they came up with the idea of the Julian calendar, which is based on the solar year. 

[00:03:53] The Julian calendar is pretty similar to the calendar we use now, the Gregorian calendar, and it was the first calendar to use January the first as the first day of the year. 

[00:04:05] But why January the first? 

[00:04:08] Well, the concept of the month of January existed in the Julian calendar and the God after whom January was named was Janus, the two-faced God, the God of change. 

[00:04:20] The Romans decided that Janus, who looked both forward and backwards because he had two faces, was a good symbol of the New Year, where you would look both forward to the future and past over the previous year. 

[00:04:37] So they decided that January the first was to be the New Year. 

[00:04:41] All throughout Roman times , January the first was a big celebration where people celebrated the successes of the previous year and toasted in a new one, much like you might be doing tonight.

[00:04:54] But this switch to the Julian calendar wasn't particularly easy because the year was so out of sync with the solar calendar. 

[00:05:04] So, what happened? 

[00:05:05] Well, the Romans had to add extra days to the year 46 BC when the Julian calendar was implemented

[00:05:14] But the Roman calendar was so out of sync with the Julian calendar that the Romans had to add some extra days to the year to put it back into sync. 

[00:05:24] And it wasn't just a few extra days and it wasn't just like we do now with having a leap year, they actually had to add three entire months, meaning that the year 46 BC had 445 days.

[00:05:39] Amazing, right? 

[00:05:40] Imagine just adding an extra three months to the year. It became known as the 'annus confusionis', the year of confusion, for reasons I guess you might be able to imagine. 

[00:05:53] But the good news was that after that the years returned to their normal 365 day amount. 

[00:06:02] So is that the end of the story? 

[00:06:04] Have things just been the same since Julius Caesar declared January the first to be the first day of the New Year?

[00:06:11] Well, no, the story does not quite end there. 

[00:06:14] In the middle ages, medieval Europeans considered the celebrations to be pagan and not befitting of Christian values. 

[00:06:23] Indeed in 567 AD the Council of Tours abolished January the first as the first day of the year, replacing it with dates that were more closely associated with Christian holidays.

[00:06:36] For example, December the 25th or March the 25th the birth of Jesus or the Annunciation, 

[00:06:44] But they did give January the first another honour, another role, deciding that it was the feast of the circumcision, as they said it was eight days after the birth of Christ. 

[00:06:55] So according to the Jewish tradition, it would have been when Jesus was circumcised

[00:07:00] Despite the fact that New Year was celebrated on different dates, the Julian calendar was still the main calendar throughout Europe for quite a long time, another thousand years or so. 

[00:07:13] Then in 1582 Pope Gregory the 13th, after the creation of the Gregorian calendar, re-established January the first as New Year as the date that New Year was celebrated.

[00:07:29] As the Pope was a Catholic, obviously, Protestants in Europe were a bit reticent to adopt this new Catholic calendar, but gradually they did. 

[00:07:39] It was pretty gradual though. 

[00:07:41] It wasn't until 1752, almost 200 years later, that the British adopted the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:07:49] Before then the whole of the British empire, which included the American colonies at that time, a lot of what we know is the USA today, used the Julian calendar and used to celebrate the New Year in March. 

[00:08:02] So yes, humans have been celebrating the New Year for millennia

[00:08:08] It's a great party all over the world, and if the history of mankind tells us anything, it's that partying certainly isn't a modern invention.

[00:08:16] But January the first as New Year as the day that the year changes is actually quite a modern custom, only just over 250 years old in Britain or in the US. 

[00:08:30] Of course, one big thing I've neglected here is that we've just been talking about New Year in Western countries and the Gregorian and Julian calendar New Year. 

[00:08:40] It’s is celebrated in a myriad of different ways all over the world on different dates according to the sun, stars and all manner of different things. 

[00:08:49] But as it's December the 31st in the Gregorian calendar, and as that's the one that this podcast works to, and I'm sure that you probably have. New Year's celebrations to be getting to yourself, I hope you will forgive me skipping over the not so small issue of the rest of the world. Right with this episode comes the last episode of the podcast for this month, for this year, and also for this decade. 

[00:09:16] It's been an absolute pleasure. I hope you have a great New Year and I will catch you in 2020.

[00:09:24] You've been listening to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English with me, Alastair Budge. 

[00:09:30] Happy New Year.



Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login

[00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:08] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:10] Today, it's December the 31st, New Year's Eve, and I'm sure you no doubt have more pressing concerns than listening to an English podcast.

[00:00:20] So today's one will be a little shorter than most, but will leave you with some food for thought and even perhaps a conversation starter for this evening for those of you lucky to be off to an exciting New Year's party. 

[00:00:36] I'll be celebrating New Year with my almost three month old baby in a slightly different way than usual.

[00:00:42] He is normally up at midnight though, so I guess we will be bringing in the New Year and the new decade together. 

[00:00:51] If this is the first time you're listening to the podcast, then you can grab a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:02] If you've already got the transcript and key vocabulary in front of you, then congratulations. You are one step ahead of the pack. 

[00:01:12] Right. 

[00:01:13] So today we are going to be talking about something very topical, something very timely.

[00:01:20] We are going to be talking about New Year. Specifically, why is New Year, New Year?

[00:01:28] Tonight, the sun will set or depending on when you're listening to this, maybe it is already set and it'll seem like an evening like any other. 

[00:01:38] And tomorrow the sun will rise and a new day will start and it will look a lot like today, and a lot like the day after that.

[00:01:45] But it's not, at least from a calendar point of view. 

[00:01:48] Today is December the 31st, which means that it's the last day of the last month of the year, which makes it the last day of the year, at least in the calendar observed by most of the world. 

[00:02:01] So tomorrow, January the first is New Year's day. It's the first day of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:02:08] But have you ever wondered why this is the day that the year starts? Yes, January is the first month, but why is it the first month? Why does New Year start on the day we call January the first, not on the one that we call January the 14th of July the seventh or October the eighth? 

[00:02:28] So today, this is what we are going to talk about. 

[00:02:32] So the concept of the New Year isn't new at all. 

[00:02:36] The earliest recorded New Year's festivity goes back to ancient Babylon around 4,000 years ago. 

[00:02:44] For the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia, the first new moon following the Vernal Equinox, that's the day in late March with the equal amount of sunlight and darkness, marked the start of a New Year and represented the rebirth of the natural world. 

[00:03:03] Humans had the concept of the year, but relied on the stars and the moon, not their phones as we do today, to calculate when it was.

[00:03:13] The Romans, as well, used to celebrate the New Year and did so at a similar time to the Babylonians in late March. 

[00:03:21] Their calendar only had 10 months or 304 days, and so it was constantly falling out of sync with the solar calendar, which, as you will know, has 365 days. 

[00:03:33] So they constantly had to add more days to the year. 

[00:03:37] Julius Caesar, when he became emperor, decided that he wanted to fix this.

[00:03:43] So he consulted the, the wise man at the time and they came up with the idea of the Julian calendar, which is based on the solar year. 

[00:03:53] The Julian calendar is pretty similar to the calendar we use now, the Gregorian calendar, and it was the first calendar to use January the first as the first day of the year. 

[00:04:05] But why January the first? 

[00:04:08] Well, the concept of the month of January existed in the Julian calendar and the God after whom January was named was Janus, the two-faced God, the God of change. 

[00:04:20] The Romans decided that Janus, who looked both forward and backwards because he had two faces, was a good symbol of the New Year, where you would look both forward to the future and past over the previous year. 

[00:04:37] So they decided that January the first was to be the New Year. 

[00:04:41] All throughout Roman times , January the first was a big celebration where people celebrated the successes of the previous year and toasted in a new one, much like you might be doing tonight.

[00:04:54] But this switch to the Julian calendar wasn't particularly easy because the year was so out of sync with the solar calendar. 

[00:05:04] So, what happened? 

[00:05:05] Well, the Romans had to add extra days to the year 46 BC when the Julian calendar was implemented

[00:05:14] But the Roman calendar was so out of sync with the Julian calendar that the Romans had to add some extra days to the year to put it back into sync. 

[00:05:24] And it wasn't just a few extra days and it wasn't just like we do now with having a leap year, they actually had to add three entire months, meaning that the year 46 BC had 445 days.

[00:05:39] Amazing, right? 

[00:05:40] Imagine just adding an extra three months to the year. It became known as the 'annus confusionis', the year of confusion, for reasons I guess you might be able to imagine. 

[00:05:53] But the good news was that after that the years returned to their normal 365 day amount. 

[00:06:02] So is that the end of the story? 

[00:06:04] Have things just been the same since Julius Caesar declared January the first to be the first day of the New Year?

[00:06:11] Well, no, the story does not quite end there. 

[00:06:14] In the middle ages, medieval Europeans considered the celebrations to be pagan and not befitting of Christian values. 

[00:06:23] Indeed in 567 AD the Council of Tours abolished January the first as the first day of the year, replacing it with dates that were more closely associated with Christian holidays.

[00:06:36] For example, December the 25th or March the 25th the birth of Jesus or the Annunciation, 

[00:06:44] But they did give January the first another honour, another role, deciding that it was the feast of the circumcision, as they said it was eight days after the birth of Christ. 

[00:06:55] So according to the Jewish tradition, it would have been when Jesus was circumcised

[00:07:00] Despite the fact that New Year was celebrated on different dates, the Julian calendar was still the main calendar throughout Europe for quite a long time, another thousand years or so. 

[00:07:13] Then in 1582 Pope Gregory the 13th, after the creation of the Gregorian calendar, re-established January the first as New Year as the date that New Year was celebrated.

[00:07:29] As the Pope was a Catholic, obviously, Protestants in Europe were a bit reticent to adopt this new Catholic calendar, but gradually they did. 

[00:07:39] It was pretty gradual though. 

[00:07:41] It wasn't until 1752, almost 200 years later, that the British adopted the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:07:49] Before then the whole of the British empire, which included the American colonies at that time, a lot of what we know is the USA today, used the Julian calendar and used to celebrate the New Year in March. 

[00:08:02] So yes, humans have been celebrating the New Year for millennia

[00:08:08] It's a great party all over the world, and if the history of mankind tells us anything, it's that partying certainly isn't a modern invention.

[00:08:16] But January the first as New Year as the day that the year changes is actually quite a modern custom, only just over 250 years old in Britain or in the US. 

[00:08:30] Of course, one big thing I've neglected here is that we've just been talking about New Year in Western countries and the Gregorian and Julian calendar New Year. 

[00:08:40] It’s is celebrated in a myriad of different ways all over the world on different dates according to the sun, stars and all manner of different things. 

[00:08:49] But as it's December the 31st in the Gregorian calendar, and as that's the one that this podcast works to, and I'm sure that you probably have. New Year's celebrations to be getting to yourself, I hope you will forgive me skipping over the not so small issue of the rest of the world. Right with this episode comes the last episode of the podcast for this month, for this year, and also for this decade. 

[00:09:16] It's been an absolute pleasure. I hope you have a great New Year and I will catch you in 2020.

[00:09:24] You've been listening to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English with me, Alastair Budge. 

[00:09:30] Happy New Year.



[00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:08] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:00:10] Today, it's December the 31st, New Year's Eve, and I'm sure you no doubt have more pressing concerns than listening to an English podcast.

[00:00:20] So today's one will be a little shorter than most, but will leave you with some food for thought and even perhaps a conversation starter for this evening for those of you lucky to be off to an exciting New Year's party. 

[00:00:36] I'll be celebrating New Year with my almost three month old baby in a slightly different way than usual.

[00:00:42] He is normally up at midnight though, so I guess we will be bringing in the New Year and the new decade together. 

[00:00:51] If this is the first time you're listening to the podcast, then you can grab a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:02] If you've already got the transcript and key vocabulary in front of you, then congratulations. You are one step ahead of the pack. 

[00:01:12] Right. 

[00:01:13] So today we are going to be talking about something very topical, something very timely.

[00:01:20] We are going to be talking about New Year. Specifically, why is New Year, New Year?

[00:01:28] Tonight, the sun will set or depending on when you're listening to this, maybe it is already set and it'll seem like an evening like any other. 

[00:01:38] And tomorrow the sun will rise and a new day will start and it will look a lot like today, and a lot like the day after that.

[00:01:45] But it's not, at least from a calendar point of view. 

[00:01:48] Today is December the 31st, which means that it's the last day of the last month of the year, which makes it the last day of the year, at least in the calendar observed by most of the world. 

[00:02:01] So tomorrow, January the first is New Year's day. It's the first day of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:02:08] But have you ever wondered why this is the day that the year starts? Yes, January is the first month, but why is it the first month? Why does New Year start on the day we call January the first, not on the one that we call January the 14th of July the seventh or October the eighth? 

[00:02:28] So today, this is what we are going to talk about. 

[00:02:32] So the concept of the New Year isn't new at all. 

[00:02:36] The earliest recorded New Year's festivity goes back to ancient Babylon around 4,000 years ago. 

[00:02:44] For the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia, the first new moon following the Vernal Equinox, that's the day in late March with the equal amount of sunlight and darkness, marked the start of a New Year and represented the rebirth of the natural world. 

[00:03:03] Humans had the concept of the year, but relied on the stars and the moon, not their phones as we do today, to calculate when it was.

[00:03:13] The Romans, as well, used to celebrate the New Year and did so at a similar time to the Babylonians in late March. 

[00:03:21] Their calendar only had 10 months or 304 days, and so it was constantly falling out of sync with the solar calendar, which, as you will know, has 365 days. 

[00:03:33] So they constantly had to add more days to the year. 

[00:03:37] Julius Caesar, when he became emperor, decided that he wanted to fix this.

[00:03:43] So he consulted the, the wise man at the time and they came up with the idea of the Julian calendar, which is based on the solar year. 

[00:03:53] The Julian calendar is pretty similar to the calendar we use now, the Gregorian calendar, and it was the first calendar to use January the first as the first day of the year. 

[00:04:05] But why January the first? 

[00:04:08] Well, the concept of the month of January existed in the Julian calendar and the God after whom January was named was Janus, the two-faced God, the God of change. 

[00:04:20] The Romans decided that Janus, who looked both forward and backwards because he had two faces, was a good symbol of the New Year, where you would look both forward to the future and past over the previous year. 

[00:04:37] So they decided that January the first was to be the New Year. 

[00:04:41] All throughout Roman times , January the first was a big celebration where people celebrated the successes of the previous year and toasted in a new one, much like you might be doing tonight.

[00:04:54] But this switch to the Julian calendar wasn't particularly easy because the year was so out of sync with the solar calendar. 

[00:05:04] So, what happened? 

[00:05:05] Well, the Romans had to add extra days to the year 46 BC when the Julian calendar was implemented

[00:05:14] But the Roman calendar was so out of sync with the Julian calendar that the Romans had to add some extra days to the year to put it back into sync. 

[00:05:24] And it wasn't just a few extra days and it wasn't just like we do now with having a leap year, they actually had to add three entire months, meaning that the year 46 BC had 445 days.

[00:05:39] Amazing, right? 

[00:05:40] Imagine just adding an extra three months to the year. It became known as the 'annus confusionis', the year of confusion, for reasons I guess you might be able to imagine. 

[00:05:53] But the good news was that after that the years returned to their normal 365 day amount. 

[00:06:02] So is that the end of the story? 

[00:06:04] Have things just been the same since Julius Caesar declared January the first to be the first day of the New Year?

[00:06:11] Well, no, the story does not quite end there. 

[00:06:14] In the middle ages, medieval Europeans considered the celebrations to be pagan and not befitting of Christian values. 

[00:06:23] Indeed in 567 AD the Council of Tours abolished January the first as the first day of the year, replacing it with dates that were more closely associated with Christian holidays.

[00:06:36] For example, December the 25th or March the 25th the birth of Jesus or the Annunciation, 

[00:06:44] But they did give January the first another honour, another role, deciding that it was the feast of the circumcision, as they said it was eight days after the birth of Christ. 

[00:06:55] So according to the Jewish tradition, it would have been when Jesus was circumcised

[00:07:00] Despite the fact that New Year was celebrated on different dates, the Julian calendar was still the main calendar throughout Europe for quite a long time, another thousand years or so. 

[00:07:13] Then in 1582 Pope Gregory the 13th, after the creation of the Gregorian calendar, re-established January the first as New Year as the date that New Year was celebrated.

[00:07:29] As the Pope was a Catholic, obviously, Protestants in Europe were a bit reticent to adopt this new Catholic calendar, but gradually they did. 

[00:07:39] It was pretty gradual though. 

[00:07:41] It wasn't until 1752, almost 200 years later, that the British adopted the Gregorian calendar. 

[00:07:49] Before then the whole of the British empire, which included the American colonies at that time, a lot of what we know is the USA today, used the Julian calendar and used to celebrate the New Year in March. 

[00:08:02] So yes, humans have been celebrating the New Year for millennia

[00:08:08] It's a great party all over the world, and if the history of mankind tells us anything, it's that partying certainly isn't a modern invention.

[00:08:16] But January the first as New Year as the day that the year changes is actually quite a modern custom, only just over 250 years old in Britain or in the US. 

[00:08:30] Of course, one big thing I've neglected here is that we've just been talking about New Year in Western countries and the Gregorian and Julian calendar New Year. 

[00:08:40] It’s is celebrated in a myriad of different ways all over the world on different dates according to the sun, stars and all manner of different things. 

[00:08:49] But as it's December the 31st in the Gregorian calendar, and as that's the one that this podcast works to, and I'm sure that you probably have. New Year's celebrations to be getting to yourself, I hope you will forgive me skipping over the not so small issue of the rest of the world. Right with this episode comes the last episode of the podcast for this month, for this year, and also for this decade. 

[00:09:16] It's been an absolute pleasure. I hope you have a great New Year and I will catch you in 2020.

[00:09:24] You've been listening to the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast by Leonardo English with me, Alastair Budge. 

[00:09:30] Happy New Year.