Our much celebrated, New Year’s Day is mingled with the holy rite of circumcision. I was curious why the dark, wintry day of January 1st had become the celebrated New Year’s Day and the beginning of a New Year.

The History of January 1st goes something like this:

The Romans dedicated the 1st of January to the god Janus — some kind of god of the gates or doors, a god with two faces, looking backward and looking forward.

Two-Faced Janus God

Then when Julius Caesar was murdered, the Senate voted to honor him on January 1.

Julius Caesar

Some countries celebrated the New Year in the Spring — on the Spring Equinox and March 25th — in celebration of the Annunciation of Jesus (when the Angel Gabriel informed Mary of her divine calling). Springtime is probably more appropriate to begin a new year.

Annunciation of Christ

England celebrated the new year on March 25 until they adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. Pope Gregory (for whom the calendar is named) christened January 1st, as the beginning of a New Year — the day of the Feast of the Circumcision. Assuming Christ was born on December 25th, he would have been circumcised on the 8th day following his birth, Jan. 1, according to Jewish custom and law.
So there you have it — our New Years Day is January 1st because Pope Gregory christened it the beginning of a New Year — because it was in celebration of the Christian tradition of Christ’s day of circumcision — a day of Jewish celebration, since Jesus was Jewish.