Did you know that Julius Caesar was the first to set Jan. 1 as the new year? Caesar did so when he established the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, decreed that the new year would occur on Jan. 1. Caesar wanted the year to begin in January because it celebrated the beginning of the civil year and the festival of the god of gates and, eventually, the god of all beginnings, Janus, after whom January was named.