Here’s to wishing everyone a very healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016. We’re all familiar New Years traditions such as broken resolutions, black-eyed peas, Champagne, and fireworks. Today, however, I realized I knew very little, if anything, about the origins of the holiday. So, here we go…

Celebrating the new year is one of the oldest continually celebrated holidays in our history, and dates back 4000 years ago to ancient Babylon. To the Babylonians, the new year began on the first new moon after the vernal equinox, about March 20, when day and night are equal length.

The Babylonians celebrated with an 11 day religious festival called Akitu, a Sumerian word for barley. During this celebration they also crowned a new king, or reaffirmed the old one.
Throughout ancient times, the new year was tied to the seasons and astronomy. The Chinese New Year began on the second new moon after the winter solstice, while in Egypt it was inked with the annual flooding of the Nile which coincided with the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

As different calendars evolved with civilization, they fell out of sync with the rhythm of the seasons and the stars. In 46 BC, Julius Caeser called on Rome’s greatest scientists to create the Julian calendar, which is very similar to the Gregorian calendar we use today.

Julius Caeser also proclaimed January 1 as the first day of the year. January is from the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings. Janus had two faces, one that looked to the past, and one that looked toward the future.

With the rise of Christianity in the Middle Ages, Christian leaders took a dim view of celebrating the new year on January 1; viewing it as a holiday rife with paganism. Efforts to make it a religious holiday (December 25 or March 25) failed when, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII officially established it as January 1.

I know, Jeff’s Corner is supposed to be about wine, so let’s make this legit. If you have a bottle of our GCV 2013 Euphoria on hand, it may just well be the perfect bubbly for New Year’s Eve. My last bottle is going in the fridge as soon as I send this off.

ALSO, Kathy and I are off to California next week, where I’ll judge the extremely prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. is the competitions’ website. You can check out my judges page by clicking on the group photo of judges and then scrolling down a bit. I’m lucky #7 in the media section.
Next week, I’ll have some news and photos from Sonoma, and once again…