January 1st in History

On this day in history —

  • The Julian calendar becomes the official civil calendar of Rome (45 BCE)
  • Gaius Julius Caesar is deified posthumously by vote of the Roman senate (42 BCE)
  • Russia switches its calendar from the Byzantine Anno Mundi system (year 1=5509 BCE) to the Anno Domini (equivalent to Common Era) system (1700)
  • The first traveler’s checks go on sale (1772)
  • The hymn “Amazing Grace” is sung in a church service for the first time (1773)
  • The first edition of the Times of London is published (1788)
  • The dwarf planet (asteroid) Ceres is discovered (1801)
  • Haiti throws off French rule to become the first black republic and second independent North American country (following the US) (1804)
  • The French Republican Calendar is abolished (1806)
  • Importation of slaves into the US is banned (1808)
  • The UK claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (1833)
  • Poland issues its first postage stamps (1860)
  • The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory (1863)
  • Japan adopts the Gregorian calendar (1873)
  • The first Rose Parade is held in Pasadena, California (1890)
  • Ellis Island opens as an immigration processing center (1892)
  • New York City annexes the surrounding counties to become a four borough city (Staten Island/Richmond joins the city on January 25) (1898)
  • Spanish rule ends in Cuba (1899)
  • The British Australian colonies unite to become the Commonwealth of Australia (1901)
  • The first American college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl, is held (1902)
  • A ball is dropped at Times Square for the first time to signify the start of the new year (1908)
  • The Republic of China is established (1912)
  • Turkey adopts the Gregorian calendar (1927)
  • Alcatraz Island becomes a US federal prison (1934)
  • A UN-brokered cease fire takes place in Kashmir, ending the first Indo-Pakistan war (1949)
  • The European Economic Community is established (1959)
  • Fidel Castro’s forces overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista (1959)
  • The US Navy SEALs are established (1962)
  • Unix Time begins at 00:00:00 UTC/GMT (1970)
  • Cigarette advertising is banned on US television (1971)
  • Formal diplomatic relations are established between China and the US (1979)
  • The ARPANET officially adopts the Internet Protocol, creating the Internet (1983)
  • AT&T is broken into 22 separate Bell System companies (1984)
  • The Internet Domain Name System (DNS) is created (1985)
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is formed by the merger of three Lutheran churches (1988)
  • The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) takes effect (1994)
  • The Euro currency is introduced (1999)

It’s the birthday of —

  • Lorenzo de’ Medici the Magnificent, Florentine ruler (1449)
  • Huldrych Zwingli, Protestant reformer (1484)
  • Paul Revere, silversmith and militia officer (1734 [O.S. December 21])
  • Mad Anthony Wayne, US general (1745)
  • Frederick Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1750)
  • Betsy Ross, seamstress and flag maker (1752)
  • Alfred Stieglitz, photographer (1864)
  • E. M. Forster, author (1879)
  • William Fox, film producer and studio namesake (1879)
  • William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan, OSS chief (1883)
  • Wilhelm Canaris, German admiral, chief of Abwehr (1887)
  • John Garand, rifle designer (1888)
  • Charles Bickford, actor (1889)
  • J. Edgar Hoover, FBI chief (1895)
  • Xavier Cugat, musician (1900)
  • Dana Andrews, actor (1909)
  • Kim Philby, spy (1912)
  • Rocky Graziano, boxer (1919)
  • J. D. Salinger, author (1919)
  • Milt Jackson, vibraphonist (1923)
  • B. Kliban, cartoonist (1935)
  • Frank Langella, actor (1938)
  • Country Joe McDonald, singer-songwriter (1942)
  • Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci), comedian (1943)
  • Grandmaster Flash, rapper (1958)

Deaths —

  • Johann Bernoulli, mathematician (1748)
  • James Francis Edward Stuart, Jacobite pretender to the UK throne (1766)
  • Heinrich Hertz, physicist (1894)
  • Hank Williams, country musician (1953)
  • Margaret Sullavan, actress (1960)
  • Maurice Chevalier, singer and actor (1972)
  • Victor Buono, actor (1982)
  • Grace Hopper, US admiral and computing pioneer (1992)
  • Cesar Romero, actor (1994)
  • Ray Walston, actor (2001)
  • Shirley Chisholm, politician and US presidential candidate (2005)
  • Patti Page, singer (2013)

Holidays and Celebrations —

  • Constitution Day (Italy)
  • Day of the Establishment of the Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
  • Founding Day (Taiwan)
  • Global Family Day (international)
  • Independence Day (Brunei, Haiti, Sudan)
  • National Tree Planting Day (Tanzania)
  • New Year’s Day (countries using the Gregorian calendar)
  • Public Domain Day (international)
  • Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State (Czech Republic)
  • Triumph of the Revolution (Cuba)

Informal and made-up holidays include Ellis Island Day, Euro Day, First Foot Day, Polar Bear Plunge Day, Saint Basil’s Day, and Z-Day.

January 1 is the first day of the year. There are 364 days (365 in leap years) remaining until the end of the year.

(*O.S., or Old Style, when used, refers to the older Julian calendar.)