1ST of JANUARY AND THE Roman CALENDAR
by Keith Hunt
IN THE BOOK "DAYS AND CUSTOMS OF ALL FAITHS" we read:
"January let has not always been New Year's Day. Under the
old Julian calendar, the year began on March 25th, This seems
strange to us, for we always expect things to begin at carefully
marked-off points, March 25th does not sound like the beginning
of anything. But to the people who were familiar with the old
calendar it was every bit as normal as the twenty-first of June
is to us as the beginning of summer, or the day after Labor Day
as the beginning of the school term, IT IS MORE THAN LIKELY THAT
THIS IDEA OF NEW YEAR'S DAY WAS A CARRYOVER FROM THE JEWISH
CUSTOM OF STARTING THE YEAR AT THE TIME OF THE FULL MOON AFTER
THE SPRING EQUINOX.
When the Gregorian calendar came into use, New Year's Day
was moved up to its present date. That was in the sixteenth
century in ROMAN CATHOLIC COUNTRIES - France for example. But
ENGLAND, AND, OF COURSE, HER COLONIES, held out against the
change until 1752. Consequently, there were one hundred fifty
years in the life of this continent in which March 25th was New
THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA SAYS ON JANUARY:
"JANUARY, the first month of the year, is named for Janus, a
Roman god, ACCORDING TO LEGEND, NUMA POMPILISUS ADDED JANUARY AND
FEBRUARY TO THE END OF THE 10-MONTH ROMAN CALENDAR ABOUT 700
B.C. He gave the month 30 days, In 46 B.C., JULIUS CAESAR ADDED A
DAY, AND MADE JANUARY THE FIRST MONTH."
UNDER THE ARTICLE "NEW YEAR'S DAY" THE AFOREMENTIONED
"IN ANCIENT ROME, the first day of the year was given over
to honoring Janus, the god of gates and doors and of beginnings
and endings. The month of January was named after this god. Janus
had two faces, and looked both ahead and backward. On the first
day of the year, the Roman people looked back to what had
happened during the past year and thought of what the coming year
might bring. Romans gave one another presents on New Year's Day.
Many persons brought gifts to the Roman emperor and wished him
goad fortune. At first, the gifts were simply branches of bay and
palm trees but later more expensive presents were given,
NEW YEAR'S DAY BECAME A HOLY DAY IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN A.D.
487, when it was declared the Feast of the Circumcision. AT
FIRST, parties were not allowed on this day, because the pagans
had followed that custom, This WAS GRADUALLY CHANGED, and
celebrations could be held again."
Now we begin to see WHERE the celebration of JANUARY FIRST
originated - with the PAGAN Roman Empire! Notice, the
"professing" Christian church did not adopt the celebration of
January lst until 487 A.D. and then with reservations,
The First of January as the START of the year came to us
from the old Roman Empire - NOT from the Bible, or God.
Let us look a little further into the origin of our present-day
calendar. Under the article "CALENDAR" in the WORLD BOOK
ENCYCLOPEDIA we find this:
"THE ROMANS apparently borrowed their first calendar from
the Greeks. The earliest known Roman calendar consisted of 10
months and a year of 304 days. The Romans seem to have ignored
the remaining 60 days, which fell in the middle of winter. The 10
months were named Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis,
Sextilis, September, October, November, and December, The last
six names more taken from the words for five, six, seven, eight,
nine, and ten, Romulus, the legendary first ruler of Rome, is
supposed to have introduced this calendar about 738 B.C. To make
it correspond to the solar year, the Romans added a short month
of 22 or 23 days every second year.
Politics soon crept into the calendar, One king added two
months - Januarius and Februarius - at the end of the year. He
hoped to collect more taxes during the extra months. Public
officials used the months to stay longer in office. By the time
of Julius Caesar, about 700 years later, the calendar was about
three months ahead of the schedule fixed by the seasons.
THE JULIAN CALENDAR.
In 46 B, C., JULIUS CAESAR ASKED THE ASTRONOMER, SOSIGENES
TO REVIEW THE CALENDAR and suggest ways for improving it. Acting
on Sosigenes' suggestions, Caesar ordered the Romans to disregard
the moon in calculating their calendars. He divided the year into
12 months of 31 and 30 days, except for February, which had only
29 days. Every fourth year, it would have 30 days,. HE ALSO MOVED
THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR FROM MARCH 1 TO JANUARY 1. To realign
the calendar with the seasons, Caesar ruled that the year we know
as 46 B.C, should have 445 days, The Romans called it 'the year
The Romans renamed Quintilis to honor Julius Caesar - giving
us July, The next month, Sextilis, was renamed August by the
Roman Senate to honor the emperor Augustus. According to
tradition, Augustus moved a day from February to August to make
August as long as July.
The Julian calendar was widely used for more than 1,500
Further investigation shows that most of the western world
use the GREGORIAN calendar, worked out in 1580's by Pope Gregory
Going to the ENCYCLOPEDIAS, we find the following:
"THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR was designed to correct the errors
of the Julian calendar, In 1582, on the advice of astronomers,
POPE GREGORY XIII corrected the difference between sun and
calendar by ordering 10 days dropped frost October. The day that
would have been October 5, 1582 became October 15. This procedure
restored the next equinox to its proper date. To correct the
Julian calendar's error regularly, the pope decreed that February
would have an extra day in years that could be divided by 400
(such as 1600 and 2000) but not in other century years - such as
1700, 1800 and 1900,"
With all the evidence as noted above, we can now see that
our present calendar was given to us by the PAGAN Roman Empire.
It was adopted by the large ROMAN CATHOLIC church and given to
the western world. The Catholic Church did NOT GO TO the Bible to
see if God ever gave a calendar for us to follow.
A BIBLE DICTIONARY will give you the scriptures on hundreds
of topics that are contained in the word of God, Under "Calendar"
you will find very little about the calendar used by the western
world today, but you will find a great deal on the calendar
instituted by God through the Israelite leaders.
We would like to add one last comment:
The calendar of God is not 'Jewish'. The seven-day week is
not 'Jewish.' God gave the Israelites a FEW points, but He told
them (the leaders in Israel) to formulate a calendar, which they
did. It was what became known as the Jewish Sanhedrin that had
authority over the calendar. See my studies "Calendar" on this
Written in 1980