Before we were able to create a tradition of celebrating the new year at the close of the 12-month calendar, staying up until midnight and making resolutions, someone had to determine (A) how long a year actually was and (B) when that year started and ended.
The earliest recorded New Year festivities date back to ancient Babylon, around 4,000 years ago, with their celebration in late March. The first new moon following the Spring Equinox welcomed the new year.
Cultures often set their own celebrations of the new year around an annual astronomical, meteorological or agricultural event. In Egypt, the new year began with the rising of the star Sirius, the same time as the annual flooding of the Nile. In China, the second new moon after the Winter Solstice heralded the new year.
Today, we associate confetti, Times Square, and wine and spirits with New Years celebrations. That partying began a long time ago—it appears humans of every age like to let loose and have fun. Pagan Romans were credited with using crazy parties to celebrate the new year. They started ushered in the new year by hosting and attending drunken gatherings, an act that they believed symbolically reenacted the world’s chaos before the gods put the cosmos in order.
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