Sunday, December 30, 2012

To Know Evil - Happy New Year

In To Know Evil, my historical mystery that has just recently been published on Kindle, the climax of the story takes place on New Years Eve in the Monastery of St. Benedict in Northern Italy in the year AD 999.

When I originally wrote the story, the scene took place soon after Christmas on December 31. On researching the Middle Ages, I found out, much to my dismay, that Europe celebrated New Years on 25 March. This little miscalculation actually extended my story almost three months. I probably could have worked around it somehow, but chose to have the climax on 25 March. I didn't want anyone pointing out I got New Years wrong.

It is believed that Julius Caesar, the celebrated Roman emperor, first proposed the idea of having January 1 as the first day of the year way back in 46 BCE. This is because the month of January has been named after the Roman God Janus. Janus is personified as a two-faced person, one face facing the front and the other facing the back, and he is believed to be the God of doors and Gates. This, to Caesar, symbolized transition from one year to the other. The then Roman celebration of the New Year was flooded with blood and drunkenness.
Later, with the rise in Christianity, the New Year was associated with the incarnation of God’s son, Christ. As such, March 25, Annunciation Day or Lady Day, was considered as the beginning of New Year. This is the day when Mary was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear God’s son Jesus.

When William the Conqueror (also known as “William the Bastard”, “William of Normandy”) took over the reins of England, he ordered January 1 to be established as the New Year to collaborate it with his coronation and with circumcision of Jesus (on the eight day from His birth on December 25). However, this was abandoned by people later as they joined the rest of the Christian world to celebrate New Year on March 25.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (also known as did away with the Julian calendar for good and established the modern day Gregorian calendar where January 1 was re-established as the beginning of a New Year.
Today however, January 1 is internationally accepted as the beginning of New Year although many parts of the world have their separate New Year celebrations in different times of the year.

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