Useful Phrase: New Year

It’s January and for most countries in the world it’s goodbye 2012 and welcome 2013.

The New Year is celebrated worldwide and it’s often a time for friends and family to gather for parties and festivities. So, how did this holiday originate and become such a widely celebrated day? Let’s go back in time and find out while highlighting some key words that will help you learn English.

It all started almost 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. The Babylonians would welcome the first new moon, which was actually in late March. The day had equal part of daylight and night, and this signified the New Year. Even in these times the new year was widely celebrated with festivities, rituals and sacrifices (I’m happy to party but I’m glad we don’t hold on to the tradition of sacrificing).

As time went on the Roman calendar fell out of sync with the sun. In 46 B.C. the Roman leader Julius Caesar asked for help from the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians and from this, the Julian calendar was born.

The Julian calendar closely resembles the Gregorian calendar most countries use today. Caesar dubbed January 1st as the first day of the year to honor the Roman god Janus. Janus was the god of beginnings and had two heads, one to look into the past and the other to look to the future.

Today we celebrate the New Year on December 31st at midnight. Since I am from the US, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the giant ball drop in Time Square, New York City. I’m always surrounded by my friends and family counting down from 10 to 0! What’s your New Year’s tradition?

This year I wish you health, happiness and the motivation to continue your English studies. Happy 2013!

image: Stuart Moreton