The Baby New Year is a personification of the start of the New Year commonly seen in editorial cartoons. He symbolizes the “birth” of the next year, and that the “old” year is gone; in other words, a “rebirth”. Baby New Year’s purpose varies by myth, but he generally performs some sort of ceremonial duty over the course of his year, such as chronicling the year’s events, or presiding over the year as a symbol.
The myth most associated with him is that he is a baby at the beginning of his year, but Baby New Year quickly ages until he is elderly (like Father Time, whom he is often associated with) at the end of his year. Some stories will have him bear a strong likeness to key events in his time. At this point, he hands over his duties to the next Baby New Year, while he remains in this state and retires.
The stereotypical representation of Baby New Year is as a male infant wearing nothing more than adiaper, a top hat and a sash across his torso that shows the year he is representing (e.g. 2012). He is sometimes depicted holding or associated with an hourglass, a noisemaker, or other item either pertaining to time or New Year’s Day festivities. Often, he is not a complete newbornbut is slightly older, because he is frequently shown standing on his own, barely walking, or having a small amount of head hair.
In addition to being a mythical figure, the Baby New Year is sometimes a real person. The first baby born in any village or city in a certain year may be honored by being labeled as the official Baby New Year for that year. The official Baby New Year can be male or female, even though the mythical Baby New Year is nearly always male. Attempts to name an official Baby New Year for an entire country have sometimes been made, but generally there are multiple contenders and no single Baby New Year can be confirmed. [WIKIPEDIA]
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