New Year's Day

New Year's Day - Wednesday, January 1, 2025

Special Interest Activities

What is New Year’s Day?

January 1, is New Year’s Day, it’s a time of optimism and planning—and resoluteness. There’s a feeling that maybe this year we’ll make the changes we’ve been meaning to: more rest, better eating habits, more exercise, or a new job. New Year’s Day is about taking a moment — perhaps with family or a football game on the screen — to get ready for everything that is about to unfold.

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year.

History of New Year’s Day

In the United States and many other countries around the world, January 1, the first day of the Gregorian calendar, ushers in a new year replete with New Year’s resolutions and promises to do better than in the year before.  The day begins with hangover concoctions for some and for others, prayers of gratitude for surviving to see a new year filled with promise. But how did this holiday begin? It’s a very old story.

Most civilizations aligned their calendars with the moon. The ancient Mesopotamians and Babylonians observed the new year over 4000 years ago. For them, a new year followed the phases of the moon and the vernal equinox — when sunlight and darkness were equally balanced.  

The Babylonians ritualized the vernal equinox with Akitu, a religious observance spanning 11 days. The Egyptians marked the new year with the flooded waters of the Nile and the star, Sirius. To this very day, the Chinese New Year arrives with the second new moon after the winter solstice. 

The evolution from the lunar calendar to today’s Gregorian calendar commences with the early Roman calendar devised by Romulus, allegedly suckled by wolves who, along with his brother, Remus, founded Rome. The original Roman calendar was introduced in the 8th century at the start of the vernal equinox (when the light and the darkness is equal, remember?) with ten months and 304 days. Another Roman king, Numa Pompilius added Januarius and Februarius. 

Most historians credit the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, with developing the Julian calendar, designating January 1 as the start of a new year. The Gregorian calendar, which many nations around the world use today,  arrived in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII aligned the calendar, not with the moon, but with the earth’s rotation around the sun — marking 365 days.

New Year's Day timeline


The Gregorian Calendar creates a new way to calculate a year

The Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XIII creates the self-named Gregorian calendar based on the earth’s rotation around the sun as 365 days or a full year.

The Middle Ages

The Catholic Church replaces January 1 with other religious holidays for a time

The heads of the Church change January 1 as the New Year and temporarily replaces it with Christmas Day or the Feast of the Annunciation — days with more religious significance.

46 BC

Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, creates leap years

With the help of mathematicians and astronomers, Julius Caesar changes the calendar from pre-Julian to Julian by adding an additional day every four years as a way to balance out the lunar and solar calendars.

5000 BC

Akitu, a religious festival in ancient Babylon, brings in a new year

Along with signifying the vernal equinox as the start of a new year, the ancient Babylonian festival of Akitu, honors the sky god, Marduk’s victory over the dastardly sea goddess, Tiamat.

New Year's Day Traditions

Adding pork to the New Year’s Day menu

You might shake your head to this but many countries have New Year’s traditions that include pigs, which represent progress and abundance. Pork is on New Year’s Day menus in Portugal, Austria, Cuba and Hungary. 

Thank the  Babylonians for New Year’s Day resolutions

Not only were the Mesopotamians and Babylonians among the earliest cultures to mark New Year’s Day as the start of a new year; they came up with the concept of making resolutions. Making resolutions on the first day of the year gave one favor with the gods. 

Eating Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day

Did you know that the tradition of cooking and eating black-eyed peas goes back over 1500 years as a Jewish New Year’s Day tradition? This Rosh Hashanah meal arrived in Georgia with Sephardic Jews around 1730. African-Americans also marked their freedom on January 1,1863 by cooking and eating black-eyed peas.

New Year's Day FAQs

Is it New Years or New Year?

“New Year’s Day” is the proper noun of the holiday we celebrate in the new year. When wishing someone a Happy New Year, you do not need to use the possessive apostrophe. When referring to it solely as the beginning of the year rather than the holiday, you use the lowercase “new year”. 

Why do we celebrate the new year?

Just like our birthdays, the New Year tells us that we’ve survived yet another 365 days! Phew! 

Why do people say Happy New Years with an S?

The ‘s’ tends to be carried over from the possessive proper noun: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. We tend to transfer the possessive into the greeting because, for some reason, it just sits better. However, the correct way to say the greeting is Happy New Year.

New Year's Day Stats

726 miles traveled

This holiday season, Americans will be covering more ground, traveling further than last year. AAA is forecasting that Americans will be traveling an average distance of 760 miles round-trip over last year’s 726 miles.

28% eat at restaurants

If you partied hard on New Year’s Eve, you might be suffering from a hangover. But no worries. Instead of cooking a big meal on New Year’s Day, 28% of Americans eat out at restaurants for hangover food.

8000 new babies

On New Year’s Day, it’s a big deal when you have a baby. In fact, there are almost 8000 new babies born with a January 1 birthday. Hospitals will usually bring in a special cake for the new mother and she may get her picture in the local newspaper!

New Year's Day Activities

  1. One word: brunch

    Soak up the champagne with nice stack of pancakes and strong coffee. Or go wild with a crab cake benedict. Start how you mean to go on with the year, with a great meal!

  2. Share resolutions, intentions or goals with loved ones

    Making any change to your life or behavior—big or small—becomes easier when you have the support of friends and family. Share what you’d like to do differently out loud, and chances are you’re more likely to follow through.

  3. Clean out your closet

    Clear out the old clothes, the frumpy pants and the unwearable shoes. Play some great music. Invite friends over. Start the new year with some space in your closet and mind for wonderful new things to come in.

Why We Love New Year's Day

  1. It feels like a blank page

    New year, new…everything! The stress of the holiday season is behind you and you have a whole new year for travel, connection, learning and exploration. What can you do this year that makes you unrecognizable to yourself a year from now. Go on, think big this year!

  2. Your healthy habits don’t seem so weird

    Sure you like your glass of wine now and then, but every day? For those of you who have great habits like moderation, being vegetarian or low-carb, and going to the gym—today, everyone’s trying to be like you. How are you going to help your friends and family stay healthier?

  3. The sense of accomplishment when you look back over the last year

    You make wake up late today, but you accomplished a lot in the last year and probably needed the rest! New Year’s Day is a day to give yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve done and are about to do.

Also on Wed Jan 1, 2025...

Euro Day
Jan 01
Z Day
Jan 01