By Buel Hallpike
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You may accept that Christmas is of pagan origin, but through your embarrassment of having had to tell persons you do not celebrate Christmas, you may feel more comfortable in wishing them “Happy New Year” on 1st January, so as to appear to be ‘normal’ after all. Indeed you may think there is nothing wrong with this since most of the world regards the 1st of January as the first day of a new year.
If you have not yet researched the origin of the New Year celebration, this mini-study may help to point you in the right direction.
Ancient history shows that for quite a considerable time, various civilizations had been observing a particular day as the start of their year, but with regard to the specific choice of the first day of the month of January, this is of Roman origin. The Roman ruler Numa Pompilius added the months of January and February to the Roman calendar in about 700 BCE. The name January was chosen in honour of the Roman deity Janus. In Roman mythology, Janus was supposed to be the deity of beginnings, transitions, gates, doors and gateways. He is supposed to have had two faces one looking backwards and the other looking forward. Julius Caesar, in reforming the Roman calendar in 46 BCE (afterwards known as the Julian calendar) chose this month named after Janus as the first month of the year.
Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, the Roman Senate approved on 1 January 42 BCE the posthumous apotheosis (deification) of Julius Caesar and gave to him posthumously the title of ‘the Divine Julius’. This was an endorsement of the day Julius Caesar had chosen to be the first day of the year and was in recognition of the ‘improvements’ he had made to the Roman calendar. Thus as a result of the influence of Roman mythology and the deification of a mere mortal, the 1st January became entrenched as the starting day of each year. The Bible clearly tells us, there is none like You, nor is there any [Elohim] besides You 2 Sam 7:22. In Exod 20:3, we are commanded, “You shall have no other [deities] before Me”.
This date did not receive general acceptance. Medieval Europe abolished the 1st January celebrations as being pagan and ‘non-Christian’. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar restored 1st January as the start of the year. Very gradually countries of Europe eventually accepted this. It was not until 1752, that Britain adopted 1st January as New Year’s Day. Things have certainly spiralled downwards dramatically from complete rejection to the present day enthusiastic support in most countries of the world. Christendom that initially frowned upon this pagan custom is now the biggest supporter of the celebration. Even in difficult economic times, vast sums of money go up in flames worldwide for the excitement of celebrating the start of this day.
Instead of honouring this non-Biblical pagan day, true believers ought to celebrate the time of the year, which the Bible says is the New Year. It is the time when Abib barley is found in Israel. Please read our article, ‘Biblically Correct Feast Dates’ for further details on how the first day of the Biblical year is determined. The Biblical new year begins in the season called spring, when nature leaps forward; the darkness and coldness of winter give way to brighter warmer days; plants regain their foliage and bud; the earliest flowers bloom; birds and animals produce their offspring. All of nature tells us unmistakably that it is a time of new beginnings. Such things do not happen in the month of January.
As for the New Year beginning at midnight, that only compounds the darkness of this pagan custom, since Yahweh’s days begin at sunrise. Please read our article ‘When does the Biblical Day begin?’
It is full time for true believers to take the initiative in patterning their beliefs according to the Bible even though we may appear to others to be very odd. We must not conform to this world’s standards so as to gain popularity or acceptance by people who do not know better.
“We ought to obey [Yahweh] rather than men” Acts 5:29.
"Our beliefs must fit in with the Scriptures especially when the Scriptures do not support our beliefs". Buel Hallpike
© Buel Hallpike January 2013