Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
New Year's Day, January 1 -- Should We Observe It?
It is known that New Year's Day dates from pagan Babylonia 2,000 years before the Messiah! The New Year's festivities that had originated in Babylon found their way to Greece and finally to Rome. The Romans called it 'Saturnalia'...a time of revellings, drinking bouts, orgies -- finally ending in HUMAN SACRIFICE! This holiday is completely foreign to YEHOVAH's instructions.
by HOIM Staff
When does YEHOVAH God's year begin? Exodus 12:2 says "This month shall be unto you beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." The name is Abib or Nisan and corresponds to March or April. Note that the context is Passover time -- in the spring of our Roman calendar year. See also Exodus 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1and Esther 3:7.
Genesis 1:14 says the sun and moon would be the signs of the calendar division. One rotation of the earth = 1 day. One rotation of the moon around the earth = 1 month. One rotation of the earth around the sun = 1 year. You can determine that the new moon begins each month by comparing Psalms 81:3 and I Chronicles 23:31 with Numbers 10:10, 28:11, 29:1 and Leviticus 23:24.
Writing for the Radio Church of God, Kenneth C. Hermann in God's Sacred Calendar 1962-3 says:
"Rather than follow the God-given principles, the Roman calendar begins a new year in the dead of winter, its day in the middle of the night, and its months without reference to the moon....God made His Calendar known to Israel when He brought them out of Egypt....Our notion has gone back to observing the very calendar which our ancestors used during their slavery in Egypt."
But isn't our calendar of Christian origin? Doesn't it have the approval of almost all Christian sects? History answers:
"Our (Roman) calendar is not Christian in origin. It descends directly from the Egyptians, who originated the 12 month year, 365 day system...." (From Journal of Calendar Reform, September 1953, footnote p. 128).
Further study brings one to the realization that the entire Roman calendar is of pagan origin with the single exception of the seven-day-week feature....
What happens on New Year's Eve? Drunken orgies, kissing other men's wives (contrary to the 7th command), and if a person is "religious" perhaps he goes to "watch night" services. Watching for what? The celebration begins after dark and reaches its intensity at midnight. YEHOVAH's day begins at sunset -- not midnight. See Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. Read also Leviticus 22:7 and 15:5 which show that sundown commences the new day.
New Year's Day is not celebrated at the right time of day or at the right time of year to be in agreement with YEHOVAH God's calendar. Some historians even say that April Fool's day used to be New Year's day -- "All Fools Day" from Encyclopedia of Religion. This would make it closer to the true first day of the year which is in March or April. Yet there are more important reasons to avoid this celebration. It is known that New Year's Day dates from pagan Babylonia 2,000 years before the Messiah!
"The New Year's festivities that had originated in Babylon found their way to Greece and finally to Rome. The Romans called it 'Saturnalia'...a time of revellings, drinking bouts, orgies -- finally ending in HUMAN SACRIFICE!
"The first day of the Saturnalia shifted during the lifetime of Rome...it began around the middle of December...and continued until January first. In its midst was December twenty-fifth, the day, as the Romans calculated, when the sun was at its lowest ebb....(E.W. Count's 4000 Years of Christmas, page 28.)...Caesar...instituted the New Year's festival on January first....He transferred to the first of January Saturnalia!" (From The Truth about New Year's! by William H. Ellis -- Ambassador College reprint #830).
He goes on to show that the New Year's babe is Dionysus or Bacchus -- the Greek god of wine -- and that the white-haired old man (father time) is in reality the Greek god Cronos.
The "silent reaper" anciently "reaped" little children in horrible episodes of mythical cannibalism! This Greek rite of human sacrifice was adopted by ancient Rome, where human sacrifice was practiced at least until 300 A.D.
There is nothing in YEHOVAH's word even remotely connected with this type holiday with beginnings so completely foreign to YEHOVAH's instructions.
Julius Caesar gave us January 1 as New Year's Day. The ancient Roman calendar was lunar, and began in March. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar asked the astronomer Sosigenes to review the calendar and suggest ways for improving it. Acting on Sosigenes' suggestions, Caesar ordered the Romans to disregard the moon for calculating their calendars, and instituted twelve non-lunar months of 31 and 30 days, except for February which had 29 days, and 30 days every fourth year. He moved the beginning of the year to January 1. The Romans renamed Quintilis to honor Julius Caesar, giving us July. The next month, Sextilis, was renamed August to honor the emperor Augustus. Caesar Augustus moved a day from February to August to make August as long as July.
Says the World Book Encyclopedia,
"In Ancient Rome, the first day of the year was given over to honoring Janus, the god of gates and doors and of beginnings and endings. The month of January was named after this god. Janus had two faces, and looked both ahead and backward. On the first day of the year, the Roman people looked back to what had happened during the past year and thought of what the coming year might bring. Romans gave one another presents on New Year's Day. Many persons brought gifts to the Roman emperor and wished him good fortune. At first the gifts were simply branches of bay and palm trees; but later more expensive presents were given."
Catholics followed the Julian Calendar, although for hundreds of years they observed the beginning of the year on March 25 (which was then spring equinox), and not on January 1 as Julius Caesar had instituted. However, January 1 became a Catholic holiday, in 487 A.D., when it was declared the Feast of Circumcision (January 1 is 8 days after December 24). The World Book Encyclopedia, article "New Year's Day," says, "At first, parties were not allowed on this day, because the pagans had followed that custom. This was gradually changed, and celebrations could be held again."
Slight errors in the Julian Calendar pushed January 1 and the times of the equinoxes ahead a little bit over the centuries. Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, upon advice of astronomers, dropped 10 days from October of that year. The day that would have been October 5, 1582, became October 15, restoring the next equinox to its proper date. To correct the Julian Calendar's regular errors, the pope decreed that February would have an extra day (29 instead of 28 days) in centuries that could be divided by 400 (such as 1600 and 2000), but not in other century years, such as 1700, 1800 and 1900. Catholics, who had followed the Julian Calendar, now followed the adjusted Julian Calendar, called the Gregorian Calendar. Pope Gregory returned to observance of January 1 as the beginning of the year. Not until 1752 did Protestant England and America switch from a March 25 to a January 1 New Year.
Among the pagan customs of New Year's Day continued today is the tradition of making noise with firecrackers and/or gunshots at the beginning of the new year. From ancient Babylon, India, China, Russia and Siam, new year's noisemaking was believed to frighten away evil spirits. "New Year's Resolutions" comes from the ancient Roman custom of cleaning out one's chimney on New Year's Day to bring good luck and a fresh start.