History Of New Year's: Why Is It January 1?

A view of fireworks by the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball during 2021 New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square on December 31, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

What makes January 1 a new year? There's nothing special about the first of January in any cosmic sense, and it doesn't fall on a solstice, so why this arbitrary date? Well, it hasn't always been this way. In fact, some of the earliest recordings of the concept of a new year can be traced back to the Babylonians, who celebrated the beginning of the Earth's journey around the Sun with a harvest festival known as Akitu, which lasted for 11 days, at the vernal equinox (usually March or April).