Silvester (also spelled sylvester, szilveszter, or sylwester) is the day of the Feast of Pope Sylvester I, a saint who served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 314 to 335 and oversaw both the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I's conversion to Christianity. The feast day is held on the anniversary of Sylvester's death, 31 December, a date that, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, has coincided with New Year's Eve. Because of this coincidence, several countries, primarily in Europe, use a variant of Silvester's name as the preferred name for the holiday; these countries include Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia.
In Israel, New Year's Eve is known as Sylvester despite the fact that he was an anti-Semitic pope who convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem and promoted anti-Semitic legislation. The name was used by many immigrants from Europe who came to the country around the time it became a Jewish state.
Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Sylvester's feast day on 2 January.
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