Have you ever wondered if the people in the Bible celebrated the start of the new year like we do today? Well, wonder no more because here is your answer and you will love it! The answer is yes, and no. Most people today will not attach any significance at all to New Year’s Day. However, that was not the case for the people of the Bible.
Today, by my observation, it is most common to experience most people attach alcohol (or other drugs) and questionable behavior to the New Year. Fireworks, partying, drunkenness, and, many times, regrettable conduct is usually the way the New Year will be celebrated. Once again, humans think of themselves first with little, if any, thought to God our Creator. Yes, that sounded harsh, and is my observation and opinion - but you and I both know it is usually the case.
Most of our New Year’s festivities are not biblically based, but that does not necessarily mean they are entirely unbiblical. The Jews were told to celebrate special events. However, we should always attempt to have parties and celebrations that are fun and include God-honoring activities only. Our gatherings should not promote or generate sinful thoughts, words, or actions.
The people in the Bible celebrated much differently. Their celebration certainly did mark the end of one year and the beginning of a new year in the Fall instead of January 1. The celebration also lasted seven days. For them, it marked the end of the harvest season and was a time of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness. From a 2018 article authored by Shari Abbott, we read that our new year begins on January 1, but for the nation of Israel, the new year began in the month of Tishri, the first month of the civil calendar and the seventh month of the religious calendar. Lev.23:23-25 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation…
Jewish tradition claims that this is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve (remember that is not biblically supported, it’s just tradition) emphasis added.
The biblical name for the day of the Jewish New Year is Yom Teruah, which literally means day of shouting or raising a noise. Yom Teruah begins the fall festival of the Feast of Trumpets and it is a High Holy Day. This day is more commonly called Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, “head of the year.” You won’t find “Rosh Hashanah” in the Bible in reference to the fall feast, because it derives from the Mishna, Rabbinic writings of oral traditions, often called the Oral Torah.
The Book of Leviticus is clear that the first day of the new year is to be a day of rest and a day of sounding the trumpet. As a High Holy Day, it would have been a time of resting in the Lord and remembering all that He had done for them.
We have been told the sanitized story of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar declaring January 1 as the world’s New Year’s Day. One of Julius Caesar’s idols was Janus, a two-faced “diety” from which we get our month January. However, according to YRM, the earliest record of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C., and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox in mid-March. The early Roman calendar, not the Julian calendar we use today, designated March 1 as the new year. The early Roman calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That is why the name September means seventh in Latin but is actually the ninth month. October means eight but is the 10th. November means the 9th, but it is the 11th. December means 10th but is the 12th month of the secular year.
The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1 in Rome was in 153 B.C. In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.
This is probably much more than you wanted to read about the New Year, but it certainly isn’t the whole story. Like all the other pagan holidays we blindly adopted, this is just another notch in the Satan’s belt.
Let’s try something new. Let’s try to start, or spread, a new tradition. As Dr. Graham once share, “pause to reflect on your life during the past year—facing your failures honestly, and asking God to forgive you and help you put them behind you.”
Most of all, what place will Christ have in your life during the coming year? Don’t leave Him out of your life, and don’t turn to Him only when you have a problem. Instead, by faith, ask Christ to come into your life, and then walk with Him every day. The Bible says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do” (Proverbs 16:3).