A New Year?
Happy New Year! Our world seems to follow the Gregorian calendar, so January 1 is the beginning of a new year. You can thank the Romans for that. But in many respects, the only thing new is the calendar.
I have a tough time with New Year’s Day being January first. I am not aware of any agricultural, ecological, astronomical or other natural significance for January first. It could just as well be April first.
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. However, Roman counsels took office January l, so in 153 BC the Romans set the first day of January as the beginning of the calendar year. The date stuck. Although some aspects of the calendar have changed since then, January first remains New Year’s Day.
Thank goodness some of out state agencies have more meaningful dates to start the New Year. The North Dakota Game and Fish’s general hunting and fishing licenses are good through March 31. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department functions similarly. 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 in May 1. At any rate, these agencies are in synch with something relevant, and much more significant than a Roman counselor’s term.
When does your new year begin in this ever ending cycle of the seasons? When spring planting begins? When the livestock are turned out to pasture? When the ice goes off a local lake or river? What ever the time, I’ll bet it is not January first.
As for me, I run on the “Metigoshe Calendar.,” My new year begins when the ice goes out on Lake Metigoshe. The date is not certain, but it works! At any rate, I’ll “officially” wish all of you a Happy New Year when the ice goes out on Lake Metigoshe.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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