Celebrating an anti-Semitic pope on Sylvester

The Israeli New Year's celebration on December 31st is named after an anti-Semitic Pope from the Roman period.

By
December 31, 2014 17:52
1 minute read.
2015

New Year's Eve in Israel is known as Sylvester. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Israeli New Years, most commonly known as Sylvester, is named after an anti-Semitic pope. Not exactly what you’d expect in a Jewish state.

It's origins come from Pope Sylvester, whose saint's day falls on December 31st, what is now known as New Years Eve. He served as pope from 314-335 CE, and while very little is known about his actual life,  it is known that he oversaw both the First Council of Nicea as well as Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Pope Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem, the year before the Council of Nicea convened, and during the council, the Pope arranged for the passing of various anti-Semitic legislation. Some say he is one of the most anti-Semitic Popes of all time.

Numerous European countries, such as Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia, refer to New Years as Sylvester. But why Israel?

The tradition of Sylvester came to Israel along with the mass wave of European immigration around the time that Israel became  a state. Of course, the Jewish calendar already had a “New Years,” Rosh Hashanah, so there is not much need for a secular replacement. So the name “Sylvester” stuck.

According to data collected by Jawbone,  nearly half of Israelis are apathetic to secular New Years-- only 67.4% of Israelis were awake at midnight on New Years 2013. In addition, Israelis go to bed earlier than most anywhere else in the world on New Years Eve, with most of the country asleep by 12:45 a.m. on New Years Eve. The study explains that this phenomenon is likely because Israelis celebrate their new years in the fall during Rosh Hashanah, and the Gregorian new year falls as a secondary priority.

For those who do stay awake, not all bars and restaurants will be celebrating the advent of 2015, but many venues will be hosting “Sylvester” parties to ring in the New Year tonight.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:



sign up to our newsletter

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Jews and Christians from over 30 countries gather at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem at an event org
October 11, 2018
Jews and Christians gather to sing and pray for peace in Jerusalem

By MENACHEM SHLOMO