Julian Calendar - New Year's Day

New Year's Day

The Roman calendar began the year on 1 January, and this remained the start of the year after the Julian reform. However, even after local calendars were aligned to the Julian calendar, they started the new year on different dates. The Alexandrian calendar in Egypt started on 29 August (30 August after an Alexandrian leap year). Several local provincial calendars were aligned to start on the birthday of Augustus, 23 September. The indiction caused the Byzantine year, which used the Julian calendar, to begin on 1 September; this date is still used in the Eastern Orthodox Church for the beginning of the liturgical year. When the Julian calendar was adopted in AD 988 by Vladimir I of Kiev, the year was numbered Anno Mundi 6496, beginning on 1 March, six months after the start of the Byzantine Anno Mundi year with the same number. In 1492 (AM 7000), Ivan III, according to church tradition, realigned the start of the year to 1 September, so that AM 7000 only lasted for six months in Russia, from 1 March to 31 August 1492.

During the Middle Ages 1 January retained the name New Year's Day (or an equivalent name) in all Western European countries (affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church), since the medieval calendar continued to display the months from January to December (in twelve columns containing 28 to 31 days each), just as the Romans had. However, most of those countries began their numbered year on 25 December (the Nativity of Jesus), 25 March (the Incarnation of Jesus), or even Easter, as in France (see the Liturgical year article for more details).

In Anglo-Saxon England, the year most commonly began on 25 December, which, as the winter solstice, had marked the start of the year in pagan times, though 25 March is occasionally documented in the 11th century. Sometimes the start of the year was reckoned as 24 September, the start of the so-called "western indiction" introduced by Bede. These practices changed after the Norman conquest. From 1087 to 1154 the English year began on 1 January, and from 1155 to 1751 on 25 March. In 1752 it was moved back to 1 January.

Even before 1752, 1 January was sometimes treated as the start of the new year – for example by Pepys – while the "year starting 25th March was called the Civil or Legal Year". To reduce misunderstandings on the date, it was not uncommon in parish registers for a new year heading after 24 March, for example 1661, to have another heading at the end of the following December indicating "1661/62". This was to explain to the reader that the year was 1661 Old Style and 1662 New Style.

Most Western European countries shifted the first day of their numbered year to 1 January while they were still using the Julian calendar, before they adopted the Gregorian calendar, many during the 16th century. The following table shows the years in which various countries adopted 1 January as the start of the year. Eastern European countries, with populations showing allegiance to the Orthodox Church, began the year on 1 September from about 988. The Rumi calendar used in the Ottoman empire began the civil year on 1 March until 1918.

Country Year starting
1 January
Adoption of
new calendar
Republic of Venice 1522 1582
Holy Roman Empire 1544 1582
Spain, Portugal 1556 1582
Prussia, Denmark/Norway 1559 1700
Sweden 1559 1753
France 1564 1582
Southern Netherlands 1576 1582
Lorraine 1579 1760
Holland, Zeeland 1583 1582
Dutch Republic except
Holland and Zeeland
1583 1700
Scotland 1600 1752
Russia 1700 1918
Tuscany 1721 1750
British Empire excluding Scotland 1752 1752
Serbia 1804 1918
Ottoman Empire (Turkey) 1918 1917

Read more about this topic:  Julian Calendar

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