The world's most widely celebrated holiday, New Year's Day has been called "Everyman's Birthday." In some countries, a year is added to everyone's age on January 1, rather than on each person's birthday.

January 1 has been observed as the first day of the year in English-speaking countries only since 1751. Before that, the New Year began on March 25 (at about the spring equinox).

In Victorian times, it was a day for gentleman to make brief social calls on ladies of their acquaintance.

Parades take place in many cities, including London, Paris, Pasadena, and Philadelphia, where the Mummer's Parade takes up a tradition that stretches all the way back to Saturnalia.

In Russia, New Year's Day is celebrated by setting up New Year's trees, holding parties for children with Granddad Frost and his granddaughter Snow Girl, exchanging gifts, games and songs.

Japanese New Year celebrations, shogatsu, or oshogatsu, involve a range of family customs, special foods, and decorations. Temple bells are sounded 108 times, symbolically driving out the 108 sins in the Buddhist catalog.

Then of course, we have the various Polar Bear and Penguin Plunges...

It's the final day of Kwanzaa. Today's principle is IMANI — faith.

- The Candlegrove

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