Why Do We Celebrate the New Year?

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So it’s New Year’s Eve…again.

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably wondering how the heck that happened and where the past 365 days went.  But try as we might we can’t stop (or even slow down) the march of time, so like you, we are looking optimistically ahead to the start of 2016. And looking ahead inevitably brings up the topic of resolutions.  It seems like people fall into 2 distinct camps on this – either they faithfully make New Year’s resolutions or they NEVER make them and/or scoff at the idea.  There is no right or wrong way to do it of course, so to each his own. But because it’s New Year’s Eve and because resolutions are a hot topic, we decided to look up the history of why do we celebrate the New Year, and also the making of New Year’s resolutions to see why they exist at all.  And in doing so, we found some fun facts on the New Year traditions and history that we thought we’d share!

Why Do We Celebrate the New Year At All?

  • The foundation of all New Year celebrations is rooted in ways that ancient people used to greet the new harvest seasons that were of course central to their basic survival.  While there are variations, all New Year’s celebration are essentially honoring the renewal of life.  This regeneration can still be seen in modern day practices, with a focus on “old with the old, in with the new” and the turning of a page rhetoric.
  • New Year’s Day didn’t always fall on January 1 – in ancient Babylon some 4,000 years ago, the New Year was celebrated with the first new moon following the vernal equinox, or the day in late March that saw an equal amount of sunlight and darkness.
  • The early Roman calendar included just 10 months and 304 days
  • King Numa Pompilius is credited with adding the 2 additional months, then known as Januarius and Februarius
  • In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem with the sun falling out of sync with the calendar by introducing the Julian calendar, a close cousin to the Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses today
  • Central to Caesar’s calendar reform was that January 1 was officially named as the first day of the year.  He chose that month and date in part to honor Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back to the past and forward into the future.
  • It was once considered a good omen if a tall dark-haired man visited your home on New Year’s Day
  • The tradition of making resolutions seems to come from the ancient Babylonians, who would make promises so that they would earn the favor of the gods and start off the New Year on the right foot.  In those days, common resolutions included paying off debts and returning borrowed farm equipment.
  • Roughly half of the U.S. population usually makes New Year’s Resolutions, while nearly 40% of us NEVER make them
  • For those that do make resolutions, only 46% of you maintain that resolution for more than 6 months
  • Today the most common resolutions for the New Year include getting fit, losing weight, spending more time with family and friends, getting organized, quitting smoking or drinking, enjoying life more and just like the ancient Babylonians…getting out of debt.
  • In the U.S. the iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square.  This has taken place since 1907, though the ball itself has evolved from a 700-lb iron and wood structure to a sphere that is 12 ft in diameter and weighs nearly 12,000 pounds.
  • Over 1 million people are expected to gather in Times Square for the annual ball drop, while another 200 million Americans watch the live televised event.
  • New Year’s traditions largely center around eating special foods…here are a few examples:
    • In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes just before midnight – this symbolizes their hopes for the coming year.
    • Legumes – which are thought to resemble coins and therefore symbolize financial success are eaten in many parts of the world.  In Italy they favor lentils and in the US, black-eyes peas are common.
    • Pork often appears on the menu in Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal, as pigs symbolize prosperity and progress in many cultures due to the fact that these animals never move backwards.
    • Ring-shaped pastries are traditional in in Greece, Mexico and the Netherlands – a sign that that year has come full circle
    • In many Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles, which are said to signify longevity.
    • In Turkey, pomegranates represent good luck due to their rich red color (symbolic of life and fertility), their medicinal properties (key for good health) and their abundant round seeds (representing prosperity).
    • In many parts of the world, green leafy vegetables are on the menu.  And that is because their color and appearances resembles paper cash.  The belief is that the ore you consume, the more prosperous you’ll be in the New Year.
    • In Sweden and Norway, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside it is the traditional offering on New Year’s Eve…and whoever finds it first is said to be in for 12 months of good fortune.
    • In some Western European countries, it is believed that eating pickled herring on the stroke of midnight will bring a good bounty in the next 12 months.  This is because their silvery color resembles a coin – a sure good omen for financial success.

So there you have it – the abridged version of the history of why we celebrate the New Year and how!  And some great menu ideas if you are out doing last-minute shopping.

Happy New Year From Corsica Technologies

We want to also wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016.  For us, opening the blank pages of the New Year is always exciting, as it provides an opportunity to strengthen our resolve to continue to provide best-in-class services…but also, to always be better and never get complacent.  So here are our top 5 resolutions for 2016:

  • To always provide the best possible service to our customers
  • To understand the sense of urgency around a customer’s computer problems and respond in-kind – because yes, we know it just plain sucks when something isn’t working with your computers!
  • To keep learning, growing and evolving so that we are always providing cutting-edge, forward-thinking solutions that make our customers’ lives better and easier.
  • To continue to focus on developing the people that make up this company and who ARE Corsica Tech
  • To have fun in our work, because life is just too short not to!

And with that, we will officially bid 2015 farewell, and look forward to the start of 2016 – a year that we just know will be filled with new challenges, new friends, new opportunities, new adventures and the promise of who knows what else.

We can hardly wait!

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