MP2 Week 9
Let's Have a New Years Eve Party!
The early Roman calendar started with 10 months and 304 days. Each new year beginning at the vernal equinox. King, Numa Pompilius added the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the time, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today.
As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending parties.
Today, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. People often enjoy meals and snacks to bring good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for a good harvest. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and bring wealth and success. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries are eaten in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere, a sign that the year has come full circle. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.