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Gregorian New Year’s Day (January 1st)

This is an archive of prayers composed for, or relevant to, New Year’s Day in the Gregorian calendar (a/k/a the Kalends of January, or January 1st).

Rabbinic lore (Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah 1:2 39c, and elsewhere) relates two origin stories explaining how the names “Ḳalends” and “January” are associated with this day. In one tradition, Ḳalends was first observed by Adam ha-Rishon. “Rav said, ‘Ḳalends—the First Man (Adam) established it…when he saw that the day was lengthening [after the Winter Solstice], he said ‘Ḳalendes!’kalon deo (or calo diem).’”

In a parallel tradition, “January” is a reference to a Roman general, as summarized by Alyssa M. Gray in A Talmud in Exile: The Influence of Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah on the Formation of Bavli (2020), p. 124:

Rebbi Yoḥanan explains the origins of Kalends as resulting from the contest between the Egyptian general and the Roman general Yanobris (=Januarius), who agrees to kill himself so that Rome can attain world mastery. Yanobris’ sacrifice prompted the cry “Qalendas Yanobris!” and the day of mourning on the second day of Kalends, which Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah notes is known as the “black day” (Greek: µelani ’imera). The Romans considered the “black day” unlucky for warfare, and in Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah R’ Yudan Antodria observes that lentils planted on that day will not flourish. This particularly Roman cultural and religious allusion is missing from Bavli Avodah Zarah.

☞ If you have composed a prayer for 1 January, please share it.


Looking for something else?

For prayers offered composed for, or relevant to, the Rosh haShanah la-Melakhim (the New Year’s Day of Kings) in the spring season in the northern hemisphere, go here.


Opening Prayer on the Significance of New Year’s Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)

Closing Prayer for New Year’s Day, adapted by Mordecai Kaplan & Eugene Kohn from a prayer by Members of the Faculty of the Colgate Divinity School (1947)

[Prayer for] Saturday night [on New Year’s Eve], by Grace Aguilar (31 December 1836)

📄 מִדְרָשִׁים עַל אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן וּתְקוּפַת הַחֹרֶף | Midrashim on the Origin of the Winter Solstice and Kalends Festivals by Primaeval Adam