The Beginning of Celebrating the New Year:
In 153 B.C. the Roman senate decreed the new year to begin on January 1. It made this decree to correct the calendar, which had become out of synch with the sun. The date has no agricultural or seasonal significance.
The Acceptance of the New Year's Celebration:
Celebrating the new year was a pagan practice and for that reason, the early Christian church condemned it. However, in order to more easily convert pagans to Christianity, the Church accepted the celebration on January 1, but made it the Feast of Christ's Circumcision.
New Year's Resolutions:
The Anglo-Saxons, who settled what is England, had a festival called Yule, which celebrated a fertile and peaceful season. The boar was a part of this celebration and people would make solemn "boar oaths" for the coming year.
Small pieces of lead are melted in a spoon over a lit candle. The melted lead is dropped into cold water. It hardens into shapes, which predict the future. A heart or ring shape, for example, means a wedding.
A gold or silver coin is baked into a cake. The person who has the piece of cake with the coin inside will be lucky for the rest of the year.
Before the holiday, houses must be cleaned, inside and out. At midnight on New Year's Eve, a monk at a local shrine strikes a gong to signify the forgiving of the past year's mistakes.
To purge the old year and welcome in the new one, the Dutch make bonfires in the street out of their Christmas trees.
Firstfooting-people visit neighbors just after midnight to wish them well for the new year. It is considered good luck if the first person to step foot into your house is a tall, dark and handsome man!
Eating twelve grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve will bring twelve months of happiness.