New Year's Eve, with its emphasis on romance and indulgence, might seem like a totally secular celebration. But underneath all that glitter and sparkle is an ancient holiday with deep spiritual roots. For centuries people have been observing the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Ancient Romans celebrated with 6 days of carousing that would probably be familiar to us today. St. Boniface, a missionary from England who visited Rome in 742, was appalled at how the Romans celebrated Kalends of January, as the New Year was called, with "dancing in the streets, heathenish cries, sacrilegious songs, tables laden with food and women wearing amulets and offering them for sale."
Because the Winter Solstice is the turning point of the year, beginning the lengthening of days, it has long been viewed as the birth of the year--by pagans celebrating the return of the Sun, and by Christians welcoming the birth of the Son of God. The days between Solstice and the New Year are a magical, luminous time period, when anything is possible. In England, the 12 Days of Christmas were considered omen days which could be used to predict the weather in the coming year. In Scotland, no court had power during these days; and in Ireland, tradition held that if a person died during the 12 Days, he or she went straight to Heaven.
In ancient Babylon, the days between the Winter Solstice & the New Year were seen as the time of a struggle between Chaos and Order, with Chaos trying to take over the world. Other cultures (Hindu, Chinese, Celtic) also viewed this as a time for reversing order & rules.
Courtesy of www.beliefnet.com/
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