Happy New Year


Happy New Year!

I am a few days late, but here is wishing you a very Happy New Year!  May 2015 be your best year yet.  January first of course is New Year’s Day for most everyone around the globe.  That is because we all operate on the Gregorian calendar sometimes referred to as the Christian or western calendar.  It was introduced as a modification of the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Cesar) in the 1500’s and named after Pope Gregory XIII.  January first in and of itself is nothing significant.  As I understand it, it was all about meshing the calendar with the church year.

The ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year on the first new moon following the spring equinox.  The Classical Greek calendar’s New Year began shortly after the June solstice.  The various Roman calendars starting around 750 BC also began the New Year in association with the June solstice.  But somewhere along the line, the Romans named the first month of the year January after Janus the Roman god of beginnings.  So the first day of the first month is January first.  So Happy New Year!

But many entities mark their year in different fashions.  Many fiscal years begin July 1.  April 1 marks the beginning of a new year for hunting and fishing licenses in North Dakota.  And our state park passes for 2009 remain valid through the winter season.  I’m not sure when their New Year actually begins, but I think it is May 1.  At any rate, these agencies are in synch with something relevant and much more significant some benchmark named after a Roman god or Roman counselor’s term.

I am kind of surprised that the New Year doesn’t begin with one of the equinoxes or solstices.  They are, as far as I know, the only consistently easily observable, predictable, and significant aspect to all life on earth.  But we humans do not always follow the natural progression of the annual cycle of the seasons.

Speaking of predictable, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this weekend, but because the moon is almost full, viewing will be less than optimal.  But if you happen to see one, be sure to make a wish for the new year!

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

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