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Wow!! Here we are on the first day of the year. What a neat thought. A whole year to put those New Year's resolutions into effect or make a dream come true. This holiday has some neat traditions that I wanted to explore and maybe, along the way, learn something new.

Celebrating the new year is a very old tradition. It goes back around 4000 years to the Babylonian times. However, January 1 was not the day they celebrated on. It was actually late March. That really makes a lot more sense, if you think about it. That's when spring is starting and everything is coming back to life. The Babylonians had no calendar to go by, so they celebrated when common sense dictated. " In the Middle Ages most European countries used the Julian calendar and observed New Year's Day on March 25, called Annunciation Day and celebrated as the occasion on which it was revealed to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God."

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII created what is now called the Gregorian calendar. He arbitrarily picked January 1 as the first day of the year. With this, Roman Catholic countries began celebrating New Year's Day on January 1. "Scotland accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1600; Germany, Denmark, and Sweden about 1700; and England in 1752."

Since ancient times, New Year's Day has been traditionally a religious holiday (in some countries, it is still celebrated as the Feast of Christ's Circumcision). But, in modern times, New Year's is a day to have parties, take a vacation, watch football, and be with family.

One of the most popular things to do on New Year's Day is watch the Tournament of Roses parade. In 1890, there was a group of people who had moved from the East and Midwest to California and they formed the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club. They wanted to show how mild the climate was in Pasadena and so they staged the first parade.

"More than 2,000 people turned out on New Year's Day to watch a parade of flower-covered carriages, followed by foot races, polo matches and tugs-of-war on the town lot. The abundance of flowers prompted Professor Charles F. Holder (a member of the club) to suggest 'Tournament of Roses' as a suitable name for the festival." By 1895, the event had grown so big that the Tournament of Roses® Association was formed to handle the festival. Today, approximately 450 million television viewers in 100 countries watch the parade with the nearly 1 million people who are curbside.

Without a doubt, the Rose Bowl game is probably the most popular football game played all year. "In l902, the Tournament of Roses® Association decided to enhance the day's festivities by adding a football game. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the powerhouse University of Michigan, but the west coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. The lopsided score prompted the Tournament to give up football in favor of Roman-style chariot races."

By 1916, football had returned, but the crowds quickly outgrew Tournament Park. So, in 1920, William L. Leishman (then President of the Association) enlisted the help of architect Myron Hunt and builder William A. Taylor to build a stadium in the Pasadena Arroyo Seco area. "The original stadium, a 57,000-seat horseshoe open on the south end, cost $272,198.26. The Tournament financed the project by offering ten-year subscription tickets for $100 each. Once it was completed, it was deeded to the city of Pasadena. Local newspaper reporter Harlan "Dusty" Hall, who also served as the Tournament's press agent, came up with the name "Rose Bowl" for the stadium, and on January 1, 1923, the Tournament held its first football game there."

1947 was the first year that a game was played under the exclusive agreement with the Big Ten and Pacific Coast Conferences (now called the Pac-10). Ever since the agreement was signed, the Rose Bowl has featured teams from both conferences and every game has been a sell-out.

However you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a safe and prosperous New Year.


(Sources Used - New Year's - History and Customs, A General New Year's History, Rose Parade - History, Rose Bowl Game History)







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