A New Year is Begun

Bonjour From Brittany

The constant sequence of religious and secular festivals and seasonal practices forms an endless, familiar, chain that repeats itself around our lives each year. This continual renewal marks a completion of the annual cycle but where should we rightly place the beginning and the end? In much of Europe, the first day of January has been viewed as the first day of the year since the days of the Roman Empire. However, following the fall of Rome in the 5th century, many nations subsequently adapted the inherited calendar to better reflect local sensibilities. Thus, New Year’s Day transferred to 25 March (the Feast of the Annunciation or Lady Day) or, in some cases, 25 December (Christmas Day).

Major changes to the calendar were instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and one of the chief revisions restored the first of January as the start of the New Year. However, while countries such…

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