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5 Interesting Facts About New Year’s

Take a look at five interesting facts about the New Year's holiday.

Millions of people around the world celebrate New Year's in a variety of different ways.

The holiday is packed with traditions that have survived through the years, but where did they come from? How did those traditions form?

Check out these five interesting facts about the New Year's holiday to find out.

1. Julius Caesar established Jan. 1 as the first day of the year in 46 B.C. He did this partly to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. Christian leaders in medieval Europe replaced Jan. 1 as the first day of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as Dec. 25, which is the anniversary of Jesus’ birth. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reestablished Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day.

2. People have been making New Year’s resolutions for an estimated 4,000 years. The ancient Babylonians may have been the first to embrace the tradition. They made promises to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot.

3. The first New Year’s Eve ball was dropped in Times Square in 1907. In response to a ban on fireworks implemented that year, an electrician built the ball as an alternative way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. He constructed a wood and iron ball that weighed 700 pounds and featured 100 light bulbs. The luminous orb was dropped from a flagpole at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

4. In some cultures, traditional New Year’s foods are thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. Pork is a popular dish in Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal, as well as other countries where pigs represent progress and prosperity. In Sweden and Norway, it is said that whoever finds the hidden almond in the rice pudding can expect 12 months of good fortune.

5. The nation’s projected population as we ring in 2013 totals more than 315 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This represents an increase of more than 2 million people since last year. In January 2013, the Census Bureau expects one birth to occur every eight seconds and one death to occur every 12 seconds in the United States.

Information provided by history.com and the U.S. Census Bureau.

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