Julius Caesar’s calendar (today called the ‘Julian Calendar’) took effect in 45 BCE. But if you’ve done your homework, you know what happened next. Yes, that’s right: on the ides of March, 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was murdered (and, paradoxically, only a few weeks after the old New Year celebration. Good timing, Brutus). It was a difficult time for the newly formed empire, and having a new calendar in place can’t have made it easier. But when the senate voted to make Julius Caesar a god, they decided to do in on the first of January, as an official recognition of his achievement in making the new calendar, and the beginning of the new year.
What do you think – if Janus could have looked forwards to us now, in the future, would he still have recognised the New Year’s celebrations from his own days?
I like to think so.