In ancient Egypt, the new year began on the first day of the month of Thout, which fell around July 19 or 20 on the Julian calendar. This month was considered sacred and was dedicated to the god Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing.
The Egyptian calendar originally consisted of twelve months of 30 days each, for a total of 360 days in the year, plus five additional days at the end of the year, which were called “epagomenal days”. These days did not belong to any month and were considered days of celebration dedicated to the gods Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis and Nephthys.
With the epagomenal days included, the Egyptian calendar had a total of 365 days and adjusted somewhat to the solar cycle. This calendar was used for many centuries in Egypt and in other cultures such as the Romans and the Greeks.
The use of the spring solstice in the northern hemisphere as the start of the calendar year in Occident dates back to the time of the ancient Romans, who used it in their pre-Julian calendar. This Roman calendar originally had ten months and began in March, the month in which the vernal equinox occurred in the northern hemisphere.
However, in 45 BC, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which established January 1 as the start of the new year. Although the vernal equinox was still important to the Romans, the changeover to the start of the new year in January was meant to honor the god Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and doors.
Despite this, the use of the vernal equinox as the start of the year continued to be important in many cultures and in some cases remained in use even after the introduction of the Julian calendar. In the Middle Ages, for example, some European countries, such as England, celebrated the New Year on March 25, the day of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which fell close to the vernal equinox.
Julius Caesar commissioned Sosigenes, an Egyptian mathematician and astronomer, to develop a more accurate calendar based on the solar cycle. Sosigenes proposed a 365-day calendar with an additional day every four years (a leap year) to adjust the calendar with the solar cycle.
Julius Caesar approved of the new calendar and decided that the year would begin on January 1 instead of March, as the previous Roman calendar had. The reason for this change was that at the time of Julius Caesar, the lunar calendar did not match the solar year well, causing the seasons and religious events to be shifted backwards in the calendar through time. By moving the start of the year to January 1, he ensured that the winter solstice was close to the beginning of the year and that the calendar better matched the solar cycle.
This calendar, known as the Julian calendar, became the basis for the Western calendar and was used in Europe until it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.
The Gregorian calendar began to be implemented in 1582. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII and its name is in his honor.
The main reason for the implementation of the Gregorian calendar was the need to correct the error in the Julian calendar. The objective of this reform was to correct the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, which had a lag of about 11 minutes and 14 seconds each year in relation to the solar year, which generated an accumulated lag that affected the calculation of the seasons and religious festivities.
To solve this problem, Pope Gregory XIII decided to eliminate ten days from the calendar to adjust it to the solar cycle and also established that leap years should not be included if the year was not divisible by 400. That is, an extra day was added in February every year four years, as in the Julian calendar, but leap years falling on centuries not divisible by 400, such as 1700, 1800, and 1900, were removed to reduce the discrepancy between the calendar and the solar year.
In conclusion, the solar cycle is the factor that determines our division of time, including the faces of the moon to coincide with the religious celebrations of antiquity.
From the astrological point of view, it is still the spring solstice in the northern hemisphere, the date of the beginning of the year, which occurs with the entry of the Sun into the sign of Aries.
Spring is a time of rebirth, of procreation, revival of nature and rising temperatures, leaving behind the inclement weather of winter and all that that implies.
In the human body, Aries is identified with the head, and it makes much more sense that this is how the year should begin and not during the Sun transiting the sign of Aquarius, corresponding to January 1, which is identified with the ankles and legs.