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New Year Traditions

    Babylonian New Year - Mesopotamia

    The people of Mesopotamia celebrate the New Year festival known as Akitu in the springtime. At this time they celebrate the arrival of the spring rains and the renewal of nature, as well as the renewal of the community.

    At the festival the story of the creation is read out to remind people of the order of the universe and how it had risen out of the struggle between Marduck the god of heaven and Tiamut goddess of the powers of chaos.

    On day three the king is put through the ritual of humiliation. All of his powers are removed and he is hit in the face by a priest, who tells him he must go and pray for forgiveness of his sins. Three days later he reappears and is absolved. His royal insignia is restored, ceremonies are performed to ensure that nature will support him during the coming year and then he takes part in a procession. After the procession the next three days are full of chaotic activities of all sorts.

    On the very last day, that is the tenth day of the festival, a banquet was held to celebrate the restoration of order to the society or the community.

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