|"Baby New Year"—cartoon by John T. McCutcheon.|
The Julian Calendar, established by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, declared January 1 the first day of the year.
With the advent of Christianity, however, efforts were made to move New Year’s Day to something of more religious significance, such as Christmas or Easter.
Some countries continued to use January 1 (the date of Christ’s circumcision) and other countries made changes. Consequently, by the 1500s the European calendar system was a mess, countries beginning the year on different dates.
|Resurrection by Wenzel Hollar, completed during the 17th century|
Since the 14th cenutry, most regions in France had been using Easter as the start of the year. (And doesn't spring simply feel like be beginning of the new year?) Using Easter as the date caused confusion, however, since Easter is tied to the lunar cycle and changes from one year to the next, so around 1500 many people in France began to use January 1 as the start of the calendar year.
For instance, in early sixteenth-century French books, it is common to see both forms of dating listed side-by-side. Just imagine the confusion when the French Revolution created yet another calendar.
|King Charles IX of France|
Author of The Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun
Research blog: http://bit.ly/BaroqueExplorations