What is the Christian New Year -- Historical and Spiritual Aspects

The Christian New Year Begins on January First According to the Gregorian Calendar

On the old Roman calendar, March 15 was the day which began the new year. The March date had basically been considered the beginning of spring, a logical time to begin a new year. But for political and military reasons, January 1, 153 B.C. became the day to observe the beginning of the new year. From then on, the Roman year began on January first, and has continued until this day.

The Roman calendar, also called the Julian calendar, was widely used throughout western Europe, until it was revised by Aloysius Lilius, an Italian doctor, astronomer, philosopher and chronologist. The use of this reformed calendar was commanded by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and named after him, called the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar in the world today. It wasn’t always so.

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.'” (Leviticus 23:23-25)

The month of Tishri, which falls during the months of September and October on the Gregorian calendar, is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar. Summer was over, the harvest had been gathered and the fall season had begun. This first day of Tishri was Israel’s New Year celebration, “a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” Today it is called Rosh Hashanah.

Jewish tradition states that this is the birthday of Adam. Many Biblical scholars agree that this was also the actual birthday of Jesus Christ, the “last Adam.” One of the symbolic references to this day corresponds with the fact that when a king begins to reign he is announced with trumpets. On this day, Tishri 1, trumpets are blown all day long. It may have been so in Jerusalem many years ago, that on the first day of Tishri, trumpets were sounded to announce the New Year, but little did anyone know, except a few humble shepherds, that not far away in Bethlehem, the true King of kings was born.

Today, this custom of celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of the next is still called Gregorian New Year or Christian New Year. Obviously, several countries and people with other religions have their own celebrations and observances. Some have suggested that for Christians, this celebration should begin with what is called Advent.

Advent in the Christian church is the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year, and begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25, and ends on Christmas Eve. The word advent comes from the Latin, adventus, a translation from the Greek parousia, translated into the English words coming or presence, referring most often to the Second Coming of Christ. Today, the season of Advent serves as a reminder of both Old Testament Judeans waiting for the coming Messiah, and Christians waiting for the returning Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Traditionally, it is a season with a prayer emphasis: prayers of commitment, prayers of rededication, prayers of supplication, and intercessory prayers for salvations and deliverance.

History and theology aside, New Year’s Eve is a wonderful time for Christians to get together and celebrate the completion of another year of life, and welcome in the New Year with prayer and rejoicing. New Year’s Day is an opportunity to rest and relax, and a great time to prayerfully set goals for the year ahead.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him! The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)

Written by: Pete Miller




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