NEW YEAR'S DAY, the first day of the year, for many ages and in various parts of the world celebrated as a religious and social festival. With the post-biblical Jews the new year commenced and still commences with the autumnal month Tisri, the first day being celebrated by them with considerable ceremony. The Romans made an especial holiday of it, offering sacrifices to Janus, whose principal festival occurred on this day, and taking care that all they thought, said, and did should be pure and favorable, since every thing was ominous for the occurrences of the whole year.
They appeared in the streets in festive garments, exchanged kindly salutations, and gave to each other presents called strence, consisting of gilt dates, figs, honey cakes, and copper coins having on one side the double head of Janus and on the other a ship. This custom of bestowing presents was made by some of tho emperors an important source of their personal revenue, until modified by a decree of the emperor Claudius. The early Christian emperors however continued to receive them, notwithstanding they were condemned by tho ecclesiastical councils on account of the pagan ceremonies at their presentation.
Prynne in his "Ilistrio-Mastix," referring to the hostility of the early church to any imitation among Christians of the Roman saturnalia, says: "The whole Catholic church appointed a solemn public fast upon this our new year's day, to bewail those heathenish interludes, sports, and lewd idolatrous practices, which had been used on it; prohibiting all Christians, under pain of excommunication, from observing the calends or first of January (which wee now call new year's day) as holy, and from sending abroad new year's gifts upon it (a custom now too frequent), it being a mere religion of paganism and idolatry, derived from the heathen Romans' feast of two-faced Janus, and a practice so execrable unto Christians, that not only the whole Catholic church, but even the four famous councils of (here follows a long array of authorities) have positively prohibited the solemnization of new year's day, and the sending abroad of new year's gifts, under an anathema and excommunication." The bestowal of gifts upon new year's day was not peculiar to the Romans.
The druids distributed branches of the sacred mistletoe, cut with peculiar ceremonies, as new year's gifts among the people; and the Saxons of the north, according to Bishop Stillingfleet, observed the festival with more than ordinary jollity and feasting, and by sending gifts to one another.
#ThrowBackThursday 1902 is suspicious. Baby New Year of 1902 reluctant to enter on the duties given by Father Time. French caricature by Achille Lemot (1846-1909).
"Now your turn dear ... c'mon! No, Daddy if it becomes so bad in one year, I'd rather not go."
More about this image and story at Public Domain Clip Art - http://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com/2011/12/baby-new-year-reluctant-to-enter-on.html
SOURCE: The Pilgrim, No. 1305, January 5, 1902, back cover.
This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1924, in this case 1902, are now in the public domain.
This file is also in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris in this case Achille Lemot (1846-1909) and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31 of that year.
By Achille Lemot (1846-1909) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
TEXT CREDIT: The new American cyclopædia: a popular dictionary of general knowledge, Volume 12