I’ve got news for everyone! Rosh Hashanah is the real New Year’s. Not just for Jews. For everyone. As it says in the Mishna: “On Rosh Hashanah all the inhabitants of the world pass before Him, like flocks of sheep….” (Rosh Hashanah, 1:2).
Since a few readers wrote that there’s nothing the matter with celebrating the secular holiday of New Year’s Day of the goyim, I did a little research to prove my point.
First of all, what a difference! While Jews spend the day in shul, a day of fervent remembrance of God, listening to the blasts of the shofar, and praying for the welfare of everyone in the world, the gentiles spend their make-believe New Year’s getting smashed and stoned out of their minds, puking up their guts, and bedding down with anyone within reach, while imbibing whatever weeds and chemicals they can to forget about God.
True, there are some who go to church first, but afterwards many of them also spend their make-believe New Year’s getting smashed and stoned out of their minds to forget about God.
That’s one of the reasons we thank God every morning for having made us Jews, and for having separated us from those who go astray after vanity and emptiness.
What then is the great charade and drunken orgy of January 1st? Why is it called New Year’s Day? Here’s some stuff I gleaned from the net. All in all, it’s as Jewish as a pig:
In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Year’s Day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year. Caesar celebrated the first New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee. Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets. In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies – a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was set in order by the gods.
As Christianity spread, pagan holidays were either incorporated into the Christian calendar or abandoned altogether. By the early medieval period most of Christian Europe regarded Annunciation Day (March 25) as the beginning of the year. According to Catholic tradition, Annunciation Day commemorates the announcement to Mary that she would be miraculously impregnated and give birth to a son.
After William the Conqueror became King of England on December 25, 1066, he decreed that the English return to the date established by the Roman pagans, January 1 as New Year’s. This move ensured that the commemoration of Jesus’ birthday (December 25) would align with William’s coronation, and the commemoration of Jesus’ circumcision (January 1) would start the New Year – thus uniting the English and Christian calendars and his own Coronation. William’s innovation was eventually rejected, and England rejoined the rest of the Christian world and returned to celebrating New Years Day on March 25.
On New Years Day, 1577, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that all Roman Jews, under pain of death, must listen attentively to the compulsory Catholic conversion sermon given in Roman synagogues after Friday night services. On New Year’s Day, 1578, Gregory signed into law a tax forcing Jews to pay for the support of a “House of Conversion” to convert Jews to Christianity. On New Year’s, 1581, Gregory ordered his troops to confiscate all sacred literature from the Roman Jewish community. Thousands of Jews were murdered in the campaign.
Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, January 1 – the marking the beginning of Christianity and the death of Judaism – was reserved for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and murder.
The modern Israeli term for New Year’s night celebrations, “Sylvester,” was the name of the “Saint” and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.). The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation. All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day – hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press
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