January 1

January 1

The preceding day is December 31 of the previous year.

January 1 is the first day of the calendar year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Here a calendar year refers to the order in which the months are displayed, January to December. The first day of the medieval Julian year was usually a day other than January 1. This day was adopted as the first day of the Julian year by some European countries between 1522 and 1579 (that is, before the creation of the Gregorian calendar in 1582). See beginning of the year. The British Empire (including its American colonies) did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. This change can lead to dating confusion between Old Style and New Style dates. The Gregorian calendar as promulgated in 1582 did not specify that January 1 was to be either New Year's Day or the first day of its numbered year. Although England began its numbered year on March 25 (Lady Day) between the 13th century and 1752, January 1 was called New Year's Day, which was a holiday when gifts were exchanged.

New Year

The ancient Romans began their consular year on January 1st since 153 BC. During the Middle Ages under the influence of the Christian Church, many countries moved the start of the year to one of several important Christian festivals—25 December (the Nativity of Jesus), 1 March, 25 March (the Annunciation), or even Easter. Eastern European countries (most of them with populations showing allegiance to the Orthodox Church) began their numbered year on September 1 from about 988.

In England January 1 was celebrated as the New Year festival, but from the 12th century to 1752 the year in England began on 25 March (Lady Day). So, for example, the Parliamentary record records the execution of Charles I occurring in 1648 (as the year did not end until 24 March), although modern histories adjust the start of the year to January 1 and record the execution as occurring in 1649.

Most western European countries changed the start of the year to January 1 before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. For example, Scotland changed the start of the Scottish New Year to January 1 in 1600. England, Ireland and the British colonies changed the start of the year to January 1 in 1752. Later that year in September, the Gregorian calendar was introduced throughout Britain and the British colonies. These two reforms were implemented by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.

In the 9th century, 25 March (the Feast of the Annunciation) was used in parts of southern Europe as the start of the new year. The practice became more widespread in Europe from the 11th century and in England from the late 12th century. January 1 became the official start of the year as follows:

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