January 1st, the stroke of midnight: Phil and Julia party like there is no tomorrow, on a ballroom dance floor crowded with men in tuxedoes and women in evening gowns.
Ralph, feeling happy and warm, weaves through traffic, while drunk behind the wheel of a potential killing machine, oblivious to the danger he presents to himself and to others. Todd and Mara, strangers who have just met, exchange kisses while dancing to 120 beats per minute in a dark nightclub. Fred runs outside his house, points his pistol into the air, and fires off a few rounds. Marta sits on a bench in a cold cathedral and whispers the same prayer over and over again. Susan sits at home watching television and envies the masses that crowd together at Times Square and wishes she was there, anywhere, instead of home alone on New Year’s.
And yet there are a few others scattered around the world who will not be out on New Year’s Eve. They will not be partying on a ballroom dance floor, or drinking and driving, or exchanging illicit kisses with strangers, or firing pistols into the air, or sitting beside other professing Christians, praying by rote. And they will not be sitting at home alone, wishing they were out and about with the rest of the world, ringing in the new year. Instead, they will treat New Year’s like just another ordinary day.
Because they are true Christians—those who carefully hold fast to the exact same truths, teachings and traditions which Jesus Christ taught His apostles to pass on to the New Testament Church (Matt. 28:18-20). True Christians do not celebrate New Year’s. They do not get caught up in its “eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die” attitude. And they do not crave to imitate those who do. Yet the vast majority of professing Christians today see nothing wrong with observing New Year’s. They do not see what the “big deal” is. Nor do they care.
What about you? Do you want to know why true Christians—whose calling and goal is to imitate the perfect, sin-free life of Jesus Christ—choose not to celebrate New Year’s or get caught up in its excitement? If so, read on. You may be surprised to learn the plain truth that most “Christian” church leaders refuse to teach.
“The earliest-known record of a New Year’s festival dates from about 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, where the New Year (Akiu) commenced with the new moon nearest the spring equinox (mid-March; Babylonia) or nearest the autumn equinox (mid-September; Assyria)” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998). “New Year’s Day, the first day of the year. Among ancient peoples the beginning of the year was determined by one of various events, such as the spring or autumnal equinox or the winter or summer solstice. In Egypt, for example, beginning about 2773 BC, the year began with the heliacal rising of Sirius, which coincided with the start of the flood period of the Nile and came not long after the summer solstice” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1999). The Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians began their new year with the autumn equinox (September 21), while the Greeks, up until the 5th century BC, observed their new year with the winter solstice (December 21).
“Many ancient peoples…performed rituals to do away with the past and purify themselves for the new year. For example, some people put out fires they were using and started new ones” (World Book, 2001). The Celts celebrated the new year on November 1, marking the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the cold, dark winter ahead (this was a precursor to Halloween). They built “sacred” bonfires to scare off evil spirits and to honor their sun god.
In early times, the ancient Romans gave each other New Year’s gifts of branches from sacred trees. In later years, they gave gold-covered nuts or coins imprinted with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. January was named after Janus, who had two faces—one looking forward and the other looking backward” (World Book, 2001).
“By the Roman republican calendar the year began on March 1; after 153 BC the official date was January 1, and this was confirmed by the Julian calendar (46 BC)…In early medieval times most of Christian Europe regarded March 25 (Annunciation Day) as the beginning of the year, though for Anglo-Saxon England New Year’s Day was December 25” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998).
Since the Roman Catholic Church leaders falsely believed that Christ was born on December 25 (to learn more, read our booklet The True Origin of Christmas), they assumed His mother Mary conceived Him on March 25th, nine months earlier: “March 25th is called the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary…It celebrates the occasion when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the young Jewish maiden and announced to her that she was to be the mother of Jesus…Although the Church began very early to commemorate this event, the date itself cannot have been fixed before the date of Christmas was established, which was sometime late in the fourth century. The two dates are dependent on each other, because they must normally have been nine months apart…Then, reaching all the way back, people decided that this was not only the day on which Christ’s earthly life began—it was the day everything began, the day of Creation itself. From here it was a very short step—an almost unavoidable one—to the idea that March 25th must be the beginning of the year, and from the twelfth century until the calendar reform in 1752, March 25th was New Year’s day” (Days and Customs of All Faiths, Howard V. Harper, 1957).
As you can plainly see, the history of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day speaks for itself, how it originated in the minds of men—pagan idol-worshippers—and how it slowly developed over the centuries.
Now notice God’s view of New Year’s, and any holiday that has its roots in pagan practices, customs and traditions. You may be shocked by what He has to say.
Let’s begin with Jeremiah 10:2-3: “Learn not the way of the heathen…for the customs of the people are vain.” That’s a Bible command. Throughout His Word, God describes “heathen” as those who worship nature (the sun, moon, stars, trees, etc.), or man-made idols, or anything but the one true God. He calls such people and their practices pagan. True Christians understand that God hates any customs, practices and traditions that have pagan roots.
How serious is God about paganism? When He rescued the twelve tribes of Israel from Egypt and led them out of brutal slavery, He commanded them, “After the doings of the land of Egypt, where in you dwelt, you shall not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do: neither shall you walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). God demanded the Israelites not defile themselves with the practices and customs of the surrounding nations (vs. 24-29). “Therefore shall you keep My ordinance, that you commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God” (vs. 30).
God cursed Egypt with ten plagues and freed Israel from slavery. He parted the Red Sea and led them to safety. He fed them manna from heaven, protected them from battle-tested Gentile armies, delivered them into the Promised Land, and drove out their enemies. How did Israel treat God in turn? “Our fathers understood not Your wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of Your mercies; but provoked Him at the sea, even at the Red Sea…They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert…They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God their Savior, Which had done great things in Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea…they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His word: but murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord…They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their intentions” (Psa. 106:7, 13-14, 19-22, 24-25, 28-29).
God had explicitly commanded Israel to cast out and utterly destroy all nations that occupied the Promised Land (Canaan). Above all, they were not to make political alliances with them or marry into their families (Deut. 7:1-3, 5, 16). “For they will turn away your sons from following Me, that they may serve other gods” (vs. 4).
But the Israelites—who thought they knew better than God—decided to do things their own way. “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works: and they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yes, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils. And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they were defiled with their own works, and went whoring with their own inventions” (Psa. 106:34-39).
To wake them up and get them back on track to being the model nation He had originally intended, God gave Israel over to their enemies. Israel repented. God rescued them. Then Israel pursued other gods. God punished them again. Israel repented again. So went the deliverance-idolatry-punishment-repentance cycle (vs. 40-46), until finally, God had no other choice but to “divorce” unfaithful Israel (Jer. 3:6-11). He used the Assyrians to brutally invade, conquer, relocate and enslave the northern kingdom of Israel (II Kings 17), which “disappeared” into history, having forgotten their true national identity (even today, the modern-day descendants of those ten “lost” tribes do not understand who they are). Later, God sent the southern kingdom of Judah into Babylonian exile (II Kings 24 and 25).
This happened because they lusted after pagan customs, rituals, traditions and ways. As you can see, the one true God does not take pagan practices lightly.
True Christians know that “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33). The original Greek word used here for “confusion” also means instability, disorder, commotion, tumult—words that perfectly describe New Year’s chaotic history. For thousands of years, men kept changing the beginning of their New Year from spring to fall, from March 1 to January 1 (and in some cases, December 25), to March 25, back to January 1 again—the dead of winter! “January 1 was restored as New Year’s Day by the Gregorian calendar (1582), immediately adopted by Roman Catholic countries. Other countries slowly followed suit: Scotland, 1660; Germany and Denmark, about 1700; England, 1752; Sweden, 1753; and Russia, 1918” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998).
Even today, men cannot agree on the same date. “Chinese New Year is celebrated officially for a month beginning in late January or early February” (Ibid.). “The Muslim New Year falls on the first day of the month of Muharram and commemorates the date of the Hegira (July 16, 622 A.D., on the Gregorian calendar), the starting point of the Muslim calendar. Since the Muslim year is a lunar one consisting of only 354 days, the commencement of the new year fluctuates widely by the Western calendar” (Encyclopedia Americana). The Vietnamese New Year, Tet, falls between January 21 and February 19. “The Jewish New Year, a solemn occasion called Rosh Ha-Shannah, is observed during September or early October. Hindus in different parts of India celebrate the new year on various dates” (World Book, 2001). This is what happens when people insist on relying on their own judgment rather than trusting the One who designed the entire universe and everything in it.
Not only is the history of New Year’s confusing and chaotic, but so is the holiday itself. For some reason, people tend to let go of all inhibition—and many times self-respect—and simply go wild on New Year’s. They drink too much, “hooking up” with people they barely know, for quick affairs that yield life-long repercussions—and shoot guns off into the air to “ring in the new year.” Many throw away common sense in order to have a good time before the night is over. In most cases, the only thing people regret is that they have hangovers the next morning. However, that is usually the least of their problems.
According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), on New Year’s Eve (1999), 43 out of 117 total U.S.-wide traffic fatalities—36.5 percent—were alcohol-related. The following New Year’s Eve, the number jumped to 75 out of 147—51.2 percent. On New Year’s Day (1999) 65.7 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths were alcohol-rated, the highest percentage for any holiday that year! That same New Year’s weekend had 53.8 percent. Think about it. People died because of the foolishness of others.
When America was still in its infancy, “many American colonists in New England celebrated the new year by firing guns into the air and shouting” (World Book, 2001). Unfortunately, that tradition still thrives in some parts of the United States. In 1993, the New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune, published a front-page informational graphic reminding citizens about the law of gravity: that whatever goes up (bullets) eventually must come down somewhere. Sadly, few heeded the warning. In fact, a top news editor for the paper who had just moved into town that year received a taste of this tradition—a bullet hole in his brand new car! Only a few years ago, a woman celebrating New Year’s in the French Quarter (which is along the Mississippi River) was struck down and instantly killed by a bullet. Authorities believed that the shot was fired from the other side of that massive river!
Obviously, a holiday this chaotic, violent and dangerous does not reflect God’s command to “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40). All true Christians recognize this about New Year’s celebrations and avoid them.
True Christians know that they must live “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). They know that man cannot rely on himself to determine right from wrong, good from evil. Why? Because “the heart [mind] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), and “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). God’s ways are higher, better, than man’s ways (Isa. 55:8-9). He designed us and gave us life. Wouldn’t He know how we are supposed to live?
God (your Creator) has given you (His creation) an “instruction manual” to help you live your life the way He originally intended (John 10:10). That “manual”—the Holy Bible—is God’s Word and His truth (John 17:17). It is filled with spiritual laws, statutes, and judgments guided by perfect spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom. II Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine [teaching], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Only God’s Word can accurately distinguish right from wrong, righteousness (obedience to God’s commandments – Psalm 119:172) from sin (breaking God’s spiritual laws – I John 3:4 and Romans 7:17).
True Christians understand that, as the only real standard of truth man can live by, God’s Holy Scriptures “cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
But most people—even most professing Christians—love to follow the ideas of men. Jesus recognized this, warning, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition…making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered” (Mark 7:6-9, 13).
God commands His people not to follow pagan practices. Yet mankind follows them anyway. Nowhere in the Bible does God command true Christians to celebrate New Year’s. Nor are there any positive biblical examples of true Christians celebrating New Year’s. Yet, society (including most professing Christians) thumbs its nose at God, in effect telling Him, “We’ll decide what we should or should not do!”
Now what about New Year’s? Can you find any biblical examples of God’s loyal, righteous followers celebrating New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? What about David, a man after God’s own heart? What about Abraham, the father of the faithful? What about Moses, or even Christ?
The answer is no. Nor can you find a biblical command from God to celebrate such a day. Yet that does not stop most professing Christians from doing so. Christians actively search the Scriptures to learn God’s will. Their life’s mission is to live by God’s Word alone—not by the traditions of men, including pagan New Year’s celebrations!
When God instituted the Passover to Israel, He also revealed to them His sacred calendar: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Ex. 12:2). God’s calendar begins in the spring, between March and April of this world’s calendar system. Leviticus chapter 23 reveals all the special holy days (annual sabbaths) that true Christians are to observe. They are dictated by GOD’S calendar, not man’s (to learn more, read our booklet The Truth About God’s Calendar). Although the Bible tells us when His calendar year begins, God does not command—or even suggest—that His followers cast aside all self-control and celebrate the new year like animals gone wild.
Real Christians understand what days they are commanded to observe: Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost), Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day, all clearly projected on God’s sacred calendar. Christ kept them, and so did the apostles (Matt. 26:17-19, 26-28; 28:18-20; I Cor. 5:6-8).
Most professing Christians believe these special days are only for the Jews. They would rather blindly observe pagan holidays, instituted in humanly-devised calendars. True Christians know better.
God’s true servants realize that this world belongs to Satan. He rules it. He runs it, through men, using mass deception, lies, slander, corruption and intrigue: “And the great dragon...that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Satan was the serpent who misled Adam and Eve into eating from the forbidden tree, thus cutting their offspring—mankind through the ages—off from God (Gen. 3). And Satan is the same evil spirit who misleads man into committing every sin under the sun.
As you read this, somewhere a little child is being abused. Someone is being murdered. Someone else is being robbed. As long as Satan rules this world, mankind will drown in sins—including pagan customs and practices, which may seem harmless to the average person, but are a stench to God’s nostrils.
Looking into the near future, when man’s Satan-influenced world will collapse, God declares, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Rev. 18:2-3).
It is this Satanic system that God commands His people to “Come out of…that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues” (vs. 4).
Both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day originate from this pagan, Satan-influenced world. They were designed to deceive mankind as a whole by appealing to fleshly, carnal desires—or, as the Bible calls them, the works of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21).
Do any of these sound like the attitudes of New Year’s to you?
At the end of verse 21, we read, “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Christ’s followers have their minds focused on God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:33)—not on the fleshly cravings of this world. They strive to “put off the old man” and actively imitate the perfect, righteous example of Jesus Christ. They know they must come out of this Satan-influenced world, including its pagan customs, practices and traditions. That includes celebrating New Year’s.
One day soon, Satan will be removed from His throne, and replaced by Christ, who will establish and head God’s government—the way of righteousness and peace, mercy and truth—on this earth. When that day arrives (and it is coming sooner than you realize), mankind will no longer be deceived into practicing customs that are contrary to God’s divine will.
But until then, what about you? You now know the plain truth about New Year’s, its pagan origins, its chaotic history, and how God views its customs, traditions and practices!