How many of us know that Jan 1 is new year because that’s the day on which Jesus Christ was circumcised? There was an utter confusion with regard to new year between 12th and 15th century, with the most standard dates being
1 Jan – Roman New Year and the day of circumcision of Jesus Christ
1 Mar – Venezian Style – the old Roman Calendar of 10 months
25 Mar – Annunciation Style – Date when Gabriel told Mary of her pregnancy. Also, Spring Equinox
Sep 1 – New year of the Byzantine Church. The date on which universe creation started
Dec 25 – Christmas Calendar. Also, Winter Solstice
Easter Style – Date changes with Easter – the first Sunday after the first full moon after Vernal Equinox
At some point, they need some sort of standardisation. They went for Circumcision Day – and that is clearly reflected from the name Circumcision Style and not Gregorian or Roman style. For example, For the people of England, the old calendar was called Annunciation Style starting on Mar 25 while the new one is called Circumcision Style.
So, what exactly is the story of this 1 Jan and why is it banned by church?
Initially, the Roman 10 month calendar started on 1 March. And when the two months were added, they were added at the end of the ten months. At some point, after the Romans started to appoint new Consuls, it became a sort of new year. Julius Caesar formalised it in 45 BC and it was called Julian Calendar – the year started with fresh Consuls. but, still, people followed the festivities according to the old calendar.
The church, seeing at the pagan celebrations for Jan 1 banned them and ordered the new year to be shifted. This set the ball rolling with everyone deciding on their new year.
One of the main reason for the ban is the pagan celebrities around the new year, with people gifting each other. But, the ban changed nothing – it fell during the birth celebrities and they didn’t stop gifting each other. That besides, it’s a celebration day – the day of circumcision.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcisedhe was called Jesusthe name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb – Luke 2:21
Due to this ban by the church, no one used 1 Jan as new year except in rare cases like that of Richard the Lionheart, that too, much later.
There is no clarity when Jan 1 was universally accepted as new year – it can be a slow adoption, kingdom after kingdom – nothing such regarding the date on which a new year is not mentioned in the papal bull Gregory issued, where he introduced his Gregorian Calendar.
What is this date’s fixation with Christianity? Initially, the Roman Catholics celebrated it as the Feast Day for Mother of God. But when the Byzantine dates started gaining ground, this day was celebrated simply as eighth day of Christmas and later, circumcision day as the focus needs to be shifted back to Jesus from Mary. It was celebrated as Feast of Circumcision of Jesus Christ or The Circumcision of the Lord and the Octave of the Nativity and from 1960, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, shifting the focus back to Mary.
What exactly triggered this?
Some accounts stated that Jesus’s foreskin after circumcision was preserved. Relics started appearing from the time of Charlemagne, with the first being gifted by Charlemagne himself to the then Pope during his coronation. The usual process followed – Charlemagne claimed an angel gifted it(probably, Irene of Byzantium brought it with her), some saint got a vision it’s true and was stashed in Rome. It was lost in the 1527 sack of Rome. This was found in Calcata and was worshipped there.
The other alternates, numbering 18 were located at Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay, Santiago de Compostela, Antwerp, Coulombs, Chartres, Besancon, Metz, Hildesheim, Charroux, Conques, Langres, Fecamp, and two in Auvergne, Antwerp in Brabant and other places. Some were lost, some were lost and found, some were authenticated and it was a riot of a confusion. A religious theologian Leo Allatius proposed that the foreskin ascended into heaven to become the rings of Saturn when the rings of Saturn were discovered.
When another foreskin was found in 1900 in France, the then Pope of Catholic Church freaked out and declared that anyone who talks about foreskin will be excommunicated. This foreskin business was formally closed when the Catholic Church changed the name of Jan 1 to Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In spite of that Calcata paraded the foreskin in a ceremony annually till 1983 when the foreskin was stolen. Slate Magazine hinted that the foreskin was seized by Vatican to stop this obscene spectacle but, there is no way to prove that.

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