Civilizations around the world have celebrated the start of each new
year for at least four millennia, but with the many changes made to
the calendar, the celebration of New Year’s has also changed over time.
The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to
ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal
equinox — the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness —
heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive
religious festival called Akitu that involved a different ritual on each of its
The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with
each new year beginning at the vernal equinox. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is
credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius.
Over centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun. Emperor
Julius Caesar decided to fix the problem by consulting with the most prominent
astronomers and mathematicians. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely
resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the
world use today, and with this reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first
day of the year.
In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of
December 31 — New Year’s Eve — and continue into the early hours of January 1.
Different countries have many different traditional dishes for this
day, such as legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future
financial success, and pork, because pigs represent progress and prosperity in
some cultures. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the
dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of
As we ring in the new year amid fireworks, toasts, and family and
friends, let us reaffirm our Orlando Health resolution to continue serving and
supporting our patients, guests, physicians and fellow team members.
Here’s to a bright new year and fond farewell to the old!
Have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!