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New Year’s Facts

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago.

Making a New Year’s resolution is a tradition that dates back to the early Babylonians. While modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking, the early Babylonian’s most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year began in Greece around 600 BC. It seems that the Grecians celebrated their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.

The song “Auld Lang Syne” is sung at the stroke of midnight to bring in the New Year in almost every English-speaking country in the world. Based on an old Scottish tune, “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long ago,” or simply,

“the good old days.” The version we know was at least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700′s, and was first published in 1796 after Burns’ death.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News

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