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How Did New Years Get Started?
 
     Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Ancient New Year’s Celebrations
     The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.
     Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Ancient Roman Celebration of Janus
     The Roman New Year also originally corresponded with the vernal equinox, but years of tampering with the solar calendar eventually saw the holiday established on its more familiar date of January 1. For the Romans, the month of January carried a special significance. Its name was derived from the two-faced deity Janus, the god of change and beginnings. Janus was seen as symbolically looking back at the old and ahead to the new, and this idea became tied to the concept of transition from one year to the next. Did you know? In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar.
     Romans would celebrate January 1 by giving offerings to Janus in the hope of gaining good fortune for the new year. This day was seen as setting the stage for the next twelve months, and it was common for friends and neighbors to make a positive start to the year by exchanging well wishes and gifts of figs and honey with one another. According to the poet Ovid, most Romans also chose to work for at least part of New Year’s Day, as idleness was seen as a bad omen for the rest of the year.

Ancient Egyptian Wepet Renpet 
     Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence. Better known as a heliacal rising, this phenomenon typically occurred in mid-July just before the annual inundation of the Nile River, which helped ensure that farmlands remained fertile for the coming year. Egyptians celebrated this new beginning with a festival known as Wepet Renpet, which means “opening of the year.” The New Year was seen as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, and it was honored with feasts and special religious rites.
     Not unlike many people today, the Egyptians may have also used this as an excuse for getting a bit tipsy. Recent discoveries at the Temple of Mut show that during the reign of Hatshepsut the first month of the year played host to a “Festival of Drunkenness.” This massive party was tied to the myth of Sekhmet, a war goddess who had planned to kill all of humanity until the sun god Ra tricked her into drinking herself unconscious. In honor of mankind’s salvation, the Egyptians would celebrate with music, sex, revelry and—perhaps most important of all—copious amounts of beer.  For more, see: 
https://www.history.com/news/5-ancient-new-years-celebrations

Christianity  
     I think we can see a pattern in all of these ancient traditions. Nature and the Gods they evoked were the main reasons for the New Year festivities. But, all of them pale to what God gave us through His Son, Jesus.
     No other religion has a God who impregnated a virgin girl and became flesh and walked among us. No other religion has a God, who gave His only begotten Son, to die willingly, a horribly excruciating death, to forgive a people who despised Him and didn’t even want His free gift of salvation. No other religion has a God that was killed, descended to Hell (Ephesians 4:9), to take the keys of Hell from Satan (Rev. 1:18), and set God’s Old Testament people that were there (Luke 16:19-31) free to take them with Him when He ascended to Heaven, 3 days later, as He rose again from the dead! Say what?!? The Apostle’s Creed says it better, but it breaks down with proof from scripture this way.
     In the days we’re living in, our country is being stripped of its freedoms one by one. If something, God, doesn’t stop it, we are headed into a time called the Tribulation. But born again believers will be gone before the more devastating things hit, in the Rapture. If you want that assurance, you can have it. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) defended Jesus to his counterpart. He didn’t ask for forgiveness, just defended him before his partner in crime. Jesus told him, “You will be with me this day, in Paradise.) He knew the man’s heart, forgave him and intended to take him to heaven when He went down to Hades to get God’s people out of there and into heaven because His work was done. He won! Satan thought he killed God, but all he did was give the whole victory to God’s Son. Jesus’s sacrifice paid our price and Satan no longer is Lord of the underworld or any world. 
     If you want to know this for yourself, say this prayer and mean it in your heart:

Father God, I know I’m a sinner. I know I need forgiveness and that Jesus was the substitute for me on the Cross. Please forgive me for all my sins. I repent and turn away from them. I trust Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior and receive your free gift of salvation. I am born again. I will confess with my mouth that I am saved. Please help any unbelief in me and show me how to live from now on. Show me how to have a relationship with Your Son, Jesus, through prayer and reading Your Word, the Bible.
 
     If you meant that prayer, you’ll know it. You will feel different. You’ll need to start reading the New Testament, talk to God daily (that’s prayer), and find a born again, full gospel or Pentecostal church family that you can grow in. You can email me if you want:  kwilty@gmail.com and I’ll help you any way I can.

2022 can be Happy indeed,
When you find that Jesus is all you really need.
 
 
 
 

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