When it comes to Bonfire Night, we, as a nation, come together to celebrate the saving of parliament way back in 1605. But the birth of a new year has been celebrated for much longer; 153 B.C to be precise.
At present, our days are measured by the Gregorian calendar which was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Previously, we measured the year’s transition under the Julian calendar indoctrinated after the conquest of Egypt by Julius Caesar back in 45 B.C (Which had 445 days).
At the time of the Roman/Julian calendar it was believed that a solar or tropical year lasted between 355- 378 days and every few years, another month known as Mensis Intercalaris was inserted between what is now February and March and lasted 22 or 23 days depending on several factors; talk about confusing!!
Greek astronomers later recalculated one year to be 365.25 days which is why we add a leap year day every four years to compensate giving us the “Leap Year”.
As you might imagine changing a calendar is not as easy as first thought, at a time when there was no e-mail and ships took months to circumnavigate the world it took a few years just to make everyone aware the calendar was changing and set a plan in place. Luckily we don’t have to worry about this as the whole world celebrates on the same date (except those following a lunar calendar) but not at the same time, with 39 time zones across the world to allow for the rotation of the earth at 1040 miles an hour.
The first place to witness the New Year is Kiritimati in Tonga twenty-six hours before we do, then its New Zealand’s Chatham Islands turn 15 minutes later, then we move to Anadyr in Russia before Sidney Harbour Bridge erupts in colour 11 hours before the UK. We then move across the globe visiting in order Japan, North Korea, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, the rest of Russia then Greece, Germany and most of Europe are next in line to celebrate one hour before our Capital city lights up with fireworks to herald in the New Year for the brits and of course, up in Scotland, the beautiful setting of Edinburgh Castle’s fireworks signify the start of 2017 (and of course a 2 day bender for Hogmanay!!)
Whilst the champagne flows and fireworks fill the sky, Brazil is getting ready to put on a show two hours after midnight here in Great Britain. By 4am on the 1st of January Canadians are in full festive spirit followed by the USA.
As one of the few countries to recognise Bonfire night, we get more chances to use fireworks than most but bear in mind on Guy Fawkes Night we usually start earlier in the evening, have a big fire to keep us warm, hot pie and peas, we wrap up warm against the autumnal cold but on New Year’s Eve it’s usually a case of dash out in your finery a few seconds before midnight point a port-fire in the direction of the firework fuse, enjoy the short display and dash back inside to the party.