Nowadays, in some parts of the world, babies who are the first to be born into a community on January 1st get to be on TV, and have their pictures in the paper, and get a lot of neat baby stuff, courtesy of local merchants. Along with freebies for their parents. Siblings, if any, appear to be out of luck, and having the new arrival showered with even more presents and attention than newborns usually receive probably doesn’t get the relationship off to a good start.

New Year baby commercialization started up in the twentieth century, but the custom of having babies symbolize a new year goes back to Ancient Greece, when the Greeks used the occasion to celebrate the rebirth of Dionysus, the god of fertility, and paraded around town with an infant in a basket.

Even babies who miss out on being their hometown’s first new year’s birth are supposed to be blessed with good luck, just from being born on New Year’s Day. Some even, for a variety of good or bad reasons, become famous. Such as: Pope Alexander VI (1431), Renaissance patron Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449), Japanese Emperor Go-Sai (1638), American revolutionary Paul Revere (1735 ?), American flag creator Betsy Ross (1752), modern Olympic Games organizer Pierre de Coubertin (1863),  scientist/inventor George Washington Carver (1864-5 ?), writer Carry von Bruggen (1881), F.BI. director, J. Edgar Hoover (1895), Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera (1909), writer J.D. Salinger (1919), boxer Rocky Graziano (1919), and historian Mary Beard (1955), whose works were among those I used for reference when writing Time Rose 5: The Volcanic Rose.



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