God Wants You to Have a Happy New Year

By Dennis Leap

As a youth, I looked forward to celebrating New Year’s Eve. My parents would attend an adult party at their relatives, leaving one of my older sisters home to watch over my younger brother and me. Surrounded by colorful Christmas decorations and amply supplied with candy, chips, cookies and soda, it was tradition for us kids to sit up until midnight watching the ball drop at Times Square on television.

At the stroke of midnight, we would go outside to the front porch and take turns ringing a heavy cow bell—an old family heirloom that had been passed on to my mother. We always had great fun competing to see who could ring the bell the loudest and longest.

On New Year’s Day, I would go to church. In the ‘50s, the Catholic Church considered it to be a “holy day of obligation.” I remember the priest talking about New Year’s resolutions during the sermon. I would spend the afternoon thinking about what I needed to improve in my life. Our teachers would often ask us about our resolutions when we returned to school on January 2. As a boy, I never questioned all the celebration surrounding January 1. Everybody was doing it, so it seemed to be the right thing to do.

It wasn’t until I learned the truth about the origins of Christmas that I began to question whether I should celebrate New Year’s Day.

New Year’s: The Oldest Holiday

New Year’s is the oldest of all holidays and the most popular with all people living in modern times. The ancient Babylonians began keeping the festival nearly 4,000 years ago. The Babylonian calendar fixed the first day of the new moon following the spring equinox as the start of their year. Spiritual purification was the underlying reason for their New Year’s festival.

For 11 days, people underwent ritual purification, confronted evil, examined their transgressions and sought redemption. People desired to put an end to their old ways and find new beginnings. Held at the time of spring planting, New Year’s festivities were also an appeal to the gods to provide agricultural abundance. This is the ancient root of the New Year’s resolutions tradition.

As this pagan festival was passed down to succeeding generations, it changed in character and in customs. The Greeks held a not-so-religious New Year’s-type festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication, in late March. The early Romans imitated the Greeks and also held a New Year’s festival at the same time. The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days. Each new year began at the spring equinox.

A Man Changed Time

However, Numa Pompilius, a Roman king, added two months—Januarius and Februarius—to the beginning of the calendar. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun. In 46 b.c., Julius Caesar corrected the problem with the help of astronomers and moved the new year to January 1. Caesar felt that since Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and he had two faces—one looking forward and one looking back—that the month named after him would be the perfect place to begin the new year. The Romans observed New Year’s by engaging in drunken orgies—a spiritual ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods. Sound familiar?

About 500 years later, Pope Gregory xiii abandoned the Julian calendar in 1582 because it also had flaws. The Julian calendar caused the seasons to slip about one day per century. By Gregory’s time, 14 days had slipped. Using mathematical calculations, he restored the calendar and kept the traditions of the Roman Empire by leaving January 1 as the beginning of the new year. The Gregorian calendar has been followed by our Western world ever since. Most people don’t consider that Roman Catholic Church established the beginning of our year in the middle of winter.

Not only does this world not know God’s calendar—it can’t agree on any calendar!  The Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate a new year sometime between January 20 and February 20. The Sinhalese new year falls between April 13 and 14. The Malayalam calendar places the new year in mid-August. The Ethiopian new year is in mid-September. What confusion!

Yet, we do not have to be confused about the true calendar. God preserved the knowledge of it through the Jews, one of the tribes of Israel.

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12 thoughts on “God Wants You to Have a Happy New Year

  1. It truly is amazing how this particular holiday seemed to be the most obscure of all the others in its origin mainly because of the fact of it’s continued mask of religious resolution attachment.

    I do remember over the years even many in Gods Church scratching their head as to how to answer what was wrong with the Jan 1st New Year celebration. Many did not seem to entirely know. Well this ought settle that Mr Leap and thank you. The verdict is out & jury unanimous, JS

  2. It is really wonderful to come to this page and find some very common sense and truth, put out in a very wise way. There is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is death. It is an excellent article full of wisdom for all. Thank you very much Mr. Leap.
    Carol

  3. thank you very much Mr. Leap,
    it is deeply appreciated that your article gives the world a clear and plain description of the biblical view,and how hope I that much people will think about what they are doing and observing,especially those who had been instructed in the truth in the past. our Love ,and fair ones ,come away from Babylon,make hast my love.follow the flock to your beloved.

    thanks for keeping God tradition alive.

  4. Thank God Almighty for His true knowledge! what a wonderful article reminding us how important God’s calender is. Let’s all count it joy when we are been persecuted for observing What God commanded.

  5. God’s ways make sense, when else would you start the new year than when things start to grow and live again!! Thanks for the reminder of its origins and especially today when the country is celebrating the wrong day.

  6. Thank you Mr. Leap for the inspiring article! You put many points in there for us to think about. What a great opportunity we have to be able to follow God’s Calender, and keep His Holy Days the right way!

  7. “From time to time some of God’s people lose jobs because of observing God’s Sabbaths.”

    Wow! Shows how afflicting it really is!

    Where can we find all of these dates?

  8. “Following God’s calendar, keeping His Sabbaths—true festivals of joy—at their appointed times guarantees anyone willing to do so a happy new year, every year.”

    Indeed! True happiness has spiritual depth because it can only be assessed spiritually.

  9. Thank you so much Mr. Leap! I am so excited to be keeping my first year the way God teaches as the right way. I am so thankful for God’s work and His ministers. What a great year 2013 is going to be.

  10. I need help. I am a security officer. I have told my new boss several times that I need the Sabbath off. (sundown friday to sundown Saturday). I’m afraid. I have prayed on the matter as well. Then something hit me. A question. And I need guidance. What did the Sentries do in the times of christ? Those who stood watch over the King and his city? Could you please help me? I know the 4th commandment is the test commandment. All commandments are from Our Father. I want to do what is right in the eyes of Our Father. To do his will and not mine.

  11. Great article, Mr. Leap! It’s great to have these reminders year to year…and getting to the roots of things! It’s so easy to be tolerant of the practices and even start “happy new year”-ing right along with them! It’s good to remember the origins of the calendar we live by day by day.

  12. I like to learn something new everyday, so I come to the best learning source here as often as possible. I’m thankfull to know the true time of the New Year and all the imformation God has given to his true people. Rejoice.

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