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Archive for December, 2012

Civilisations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Fireworks

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Celebration Fireworks

Early New Year’s Celebrations

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Throughout antiquity, civilisations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

A move from March to January

The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”

January Joins the Calendar

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.

Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.

For more New Year’s features see New Year’s Traditions and Saying “Happy New Year!” Around the World.

Read more: A History of the New Year — Infoplease.com
http://www.history.com/topics/new-years

Did you know ?In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar”

Wessex Tours – Making History!
www.HisTOURies.co.uk

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Human remains found in the resting place of Richard III have already been identified as those of the king but information is being held back ahead of a major press conference next month, sources close to the project claim

A source with knowledge of the excavation told the Telegraph archaeologists will richard_3
name the skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in September as the
Plantagenet king even if long-awaited DNA results on the bones prove
inconclusive.

Additional evidence not revealed at a major press conference after the remains were found demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that the body is the King’s, even without genetic proof, the source said.

Leicester University experts announced earlier this year that there was convincing evidence suggesting the remains were those of Richard III, but have always insisted DNA analysis is needed before a conclusion can be reached.

Clues to the body’s identity include a wound to the skull and a twist in the spine which match historical accounts of the King and his death in battle, but these alone are not enough to prove it is the King, archaeologists said at the time.

A spokesman for Leicester University denied any information had been withheld from the public at the press event in September, but said various new evidence gathered since then will be announced to the public next month.

This will include the results of radiocarbon dating tests, which will indicate the date the individual died within an 80-year range, and analysis of dental calculus which could reveal details about their and lifestyle, as well as the first images of the body.

The spokesman said: “There will be things that have been discovered during the course of the investigation that will be announced at the press conference, but everything we were willing to reveal and that we were sure of, we revealed [in September].”

A Channel Four documentary, which initially led to the university’s involvement, will also be screened in January and is expected to reveal new information about the project.

The University insists it has been open about the analysis of the skeleton from the start, but a number of people close to the study have become uncomfortable that new evidence is not being published.

A source told the Telegraph: “Unfortunately, an awful lot of stuff is being kept from the public.

“I am told that circumstantial evidence of the find which is not going to be broadcast until this programme (on Channel Four) is brought out in January will confirm the body is Richard III’s, even if the DNA does not.”

The University said all available information will be announced at the press event and insisted it had no knowledge of any information which is being withheld for the documentary.

The body was identified just weeks into a project which began when experts identified a council car park in Leicester as the most likely historical location of the church of Grey Friars, where the King was said to have been buried after his defeat in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The archaeologists initially described the dig as a “long shot” but have since uncovered the foundations of a church along with two bodies, one of which is thought to be that of the King.

By , Science Correspondent – Full article

Wessex Guided Tours
Mystcal Landscape, Magical Tours

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Tower Tours at Salisbury Cathedral are regarded as the ‘ultimate’ visitor experience. Led by one of our knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides, you climb 332 steps in five stages to discover the hidden medieval structure that supports the amazing spire, see behind the scenes, hear the Cathedral’s history, and see the breathtaking views over Salisbury and beyond from 224 feet above ground level.
Salisbury Cathedral Guided ToursThis Christmas there are four ways to experience a tower tour at Salisbury Cathedral.
29 November – 24 December 2012

Daily from 29 November through to 24 December there are two options available to choose from:
Tower Tour 12.15pm (90 minutes tour) Climb to the base of the spire and see the views over the city and surrounding countryside whilst learning about the history of the Cathedral from a specialist guide. £10.00 per person (£8.00 seniors, students and children 7-17 years)
Tower Tour and Tea 2.15pm (please note there will be no Tower Tour and Tea on Sunday 2 December and Sunday 16 December) A shorter Tower Tour (60 minutes maximum) followed by tea in the Cathedral’s award-winning Refectory with Christmas cake/mince pies. £13.00 per person (£11.00 seniors, students and children 7-17 years)
Pre-book your place online at http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk or call 01722 555156.

Christmas Spire Special
And for six days, we are offering a Christmas Spire Special providing the opportunity to see Salisbury City’s Christmas Lights from above. Beginning at 4.30pm, visitors enjoy a guided tour of the Cathedral and Chapter House with Magna Carta before climbing 332 steps to the base of the Cathedral spire on a ‘Tower Tour Teaser’ *, finishing with either a 2-course supper or seasonal refreshments.
Saturday 8, Thursday 13 and Thursday 20 December – with 2 course supper £20.00 (ends 7.30pm)
Friday 7, Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 19 December – seasonal refreshments £13.00 (ends 7.00pm)
*alternatively move into the quire and experience the beauty and peace of Evensong sung by our superb Cathedral Choir. 

To book please call 01722 555120.

Tower Tours

Enjoy spectacular views as you explore the roof spaces and tower, climbing 332 steps in easy stages by narrow winding spiral staircases to reach the foot of the spire 225 feet above ground level. From here you can see up into the spire through the medieval scaffold, and from the outside you can look over the city and surrounding countryside.

Tower tours cost £10.00 for adults, £8.00 for children/seniors and £27.00 family (2 adults + 3 children) which includes a donation to the Cathedral. Scheduled tours run at least once a day for 11 months of the year (subject to daily conditions).
From Monday to Saturday, scheduled tours run between 1 -5 times a day all year round (see timetable below). There are two scheduled tours on Sundays between April – September.

http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk

Wessex Guided Tourswww.Histouries.co.uk
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

 

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