The New Year hasn’t always begun on January 1st. According to Wikipedia, it was only relatively recently that January 1st again became the first day of the year in Western culture. Until 1751 in England and Wales (and all British dominions) the new year started on March 25th – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days (although the change to January 1st took place in 1600 in Scotland). Since then, January 1st has been the first day of the year.

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New Year’s Eve at the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro
Photo credit – Alex Rio Brazil – Courtesy of Wikipedia

From my point of view, if I was to start the new year in the northern winter, I would have chosen December 21st, the winter solstice. However, it would seem more logical to me to start the year on March 21st, the spring equinox. It would coincide with new life, new hope, not months of darkness and dormancy.