Happy New Year!

While today we celebrate New Year's Eve and Day with lots of toasts and celebrations, the colonials of Virginia saw New Year's only as a passing date in anticipation of the 12th Night celebrations. Twelfth Night is the end of the Christmas season, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. On January the 5th, the final evening of the Christmas season, this was the time for a get-together of whatever means one could afford.

The next day is the start of Epiphany (or litterally, "I get it" - meaning the importance of the birth of Christ), or biblically, it means the manifestation of Christ to humans. So, the Magi reached Bethlehem and this was the Epiphany because it was the presentation of Christ to the Gentiles.

Why the focus on Twelfth Night and not New Year's?. Most likely it is due to the fact that until 1752, the legal New Year's Day was March 25th. What? Turns out, Continental Europe began using an updated Gregorian Calendar in the 1500's (which is what we still use today), but Great Britain and the colonies didn't catch up until 1752.

So if you are really old school, you now have a reason to celebrate another New Year's Eve on March 24th. Any excuse, right?