My 1st post in 2011 about the history of the day we are celebrating today!
The first day of the year was fixed as January 1 by the Gregorian calendar, adopted by Pope Gregory XIII on February 24, 1582. The purpose of introducing a new calendar was the need to regulate Christian feast days and festivals. The year shown on the original document is 1581, because at the time it was signed, the new year did not begin until March. Some European countries adopted January 1 as the first day of the year, but in England the new year continued to begin on March 25, until 1622.
Facts About First Footing:
First footing is a New Year tradition, practiced mainly in Scotland and Northern England, when a dark-haired man has to knock at the door just after midnight, so he is the first person to enter the home in the New Year. If the first visitor of the year arrives without bringing a gift, this will bring poverty to the household in the coming year. The first footer therefore offers a piece of coal, peat or wood, to represent the necessary warmth of a fire, and a piece of oatcake, shortbread, or a spicy bun, as a symbol of sufficient food.
Facts About Scottish and Welsh New Year Traditions:
New Year is a bigger celebration in Scotland than Christmas, and Scotland has an official public holiday on the first two weekdays of January. The Scottish tradition of celebrating Hogmanay its roots in the pagan midwinter festival, when it was the practice to worship the sun by starting fires. The name of Hogmanay possibly comes from the Gaelic - Oidche Challainn - meaning "the evening of the oatcake".
In some regions of Scotland, an ancient tradition involves young men or boys disguised by wearing cow hides. They circle a house three times, and strike the walls, to offer protection from harm to the family within. They must shout and demand to be allowed into the home, and can enter the house after each has recited a special rhyme. Inside the home they must be offered food and drink.
A similar tradition in Wales involves a hobbyhorse, made from a horse skull fixed to a pole, with false ears and eyes, bells and ribbons attached. A man under a white sheet operated the jaw to make it open and close. At each house door the men recite a rhyme to request entry, and a rhymed response from inside refuses to let them in. This can go on for some time, until the men are invited in and offered food and drink.
Facts About Auld Lang Syne:
Auld Lang Syne is now sung around the world, often by large crowds gathered for New Year celebrations, while joining hands at the stroke of midnight. The words are in the old Scots dialect and were adapted by Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, from traditional verses, and the melody comes from an old Scottish folk dance.
Facts About The Month of January:
January is named after Janus, the Roman god of gateways and doorways. Janus is associated with new beginnings, having two faces, one looking back and another seeing forward. The Roman calendar just had ten months, and each new year started in March.
For the Anglo Saxons, it was the month when wild wolves were most likely to enter villages in search of food.