Click to follow
The Independent Online
Happy New Years: The Year of the Pig, the Chinese new year, begins on 31 January; the Indian Saka year 1917 starts on 22 March; the Muslim year 1416 begins on 31 May; the Hindu new year begins on 1 April; the Jewish year 5756

begins on 25 September; the Sikh new year begins on 14 April; the Roman new year began in March until 153BC, when it became 1 January ; Anglo-Saxon England began the new year on 25 December; William the Conqueror moved it to 1 January, but England later joined the rest of Christendom in beginning the year on 25 March; the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582, made it 1 January; this date was taken up immediately by Catholic Europe, but Protestant countries took their time; Japan's new year, Heisei, starts today.

Today is the feast day of Saint Euphrosyne the Virgin, who disguised herself as a man and entered a monastery, there acquiring fame as a monk of great wisdom and holiness. Her fellow monks did not learn she was a woman until her death. Euphrosyne was born in 5th-century Alexandria, and decided to take holy orders when her father arranged marriage for her. She chose a monastery because she feared that if she became a nun he would easily trace her. Although the abbot and monks believed her to be a man, her beauty was a distraction to them, so she retired to a solitary cell, living a life there of ascetic discipline. Among those who sought spiritual guidance from her was her father, who was distraught at losing her. She recognised him, but did not reveal herself to him until years later, when she was dying. After her death, he renounced the world and moved into her cell.

1 January 1785: The Daily Universal Register was first published. It later became the Times.

1895: J Edgar Hoover (above), founder and long-serving director of the FBI, was born in Washington DC. Appointed in 1924, he was still in charge of the bureau when he died in 1972. Hoover built the FBI into the US's first effective federal crime-fightingforce, establishing a national fingerprint library and forensic research centre. But he is best remembered as an anti-Communist so fanatical he came to regard almost all dissent as un-American. He was an active homosexual and since his death it has beenalleged that he took part in orgies, wearing frilly dresses. If this information reached the Mafia, it may account for the FBI's failure to defeat organised crime.

1958: The European Economic Community came into being.