While people celebrate the New Year on January 1 in most parts of the world, some religions and cultures have completely different dates for the day. The standard Gregorian calendar that contains 365 days or 12 months ends on December 31 and begins on January 1. However, some cultures either celebrate the day later in the year and this is owed to the different calendars used in different parts of the world.
If you are reading to this point, you must be confused and wondering who are those celebrating the new year on a different date from January 1. Well, read on as we break down the various religions and cultures that mark their new year’s day on a different day that isn’t January 1.
1. Chinese new year- Lunar New Year
The Chinese culture has caught the world’s eye as it has increasingly ranked up to brush heads with powerful countries like the United States, but did you know that China does not celebrate its new year on January 1. Every year, the Chinese dates for the New Year celebration change and they fall between January 21- February 21, depending on when the new moon appears. For instance, China will celebrate its 2019 new year on February 5 and this year is known as the year of the pig. In China, the pig is considered the symbol of wealth. Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well. During the New Year, red envelopes filled with money are presented to family and friends, and colorful festivals with lantern displays fill the streets.
2. Jewish new year- Rosh Hashanah
One of the most talked about religions in the world; the Jewish people celebrate their new year on the first two days of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this would be in September or October during Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year.”
The period of Rosh Hashanah is considered the time of rejoicing, celebration, and introspection. The holiday is celebrated with traditions that include the sounding of the shofar or a ram’s horn in synagogues and eating natural foods such as pomegranates, dates, beets, and leeks. One food that catches the attention of the world is apples eaten with honey. The meal is a tradition that is believed to have healing properties. In addition, the Jewish people will walk to a water body to shake out their pockets, symbolically casting their sins into the water.
3. India- Pahela Baisakh and Diwali
India has the most diverse New Year celebrations in the world. The people of Bengali celebrate Pahela Baisakh in April, which is the first month on the Bengali calendar. The festivities mark the beginning of the harvest season, and the Bengali people perform cultural performances and feast for days.
Millions of Indians particularly the Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains all over the world celebrate the festival of lights or Diwali. The Diwali celebration is usually held between mid-October and mid-November depending on the Hindu lunar calendar. Diwali is mainly celebrated as a sign of the triumph of good over evil after Rama, the lord of virtue.
4. Islamic new year- Al-Hijra new year
The Islamic New Year are done on the first day of Muharram, which is the first month on the Islamic lunar calendar. The Islamic New Year falls between mid-august and late September depending on the time when the new moon appears. During this time, special prayers are conducted in mosques.
5. Thai new year- Songkram
The people in Thailand mark their new year in April. The Thai people hold a special celebration where the main activity is water throwing. The water is symbolic in the hopes that it will bring good rains in the new year. The people also cleanse their Buddha statues and images for good luck and prosperity.
6. Iranian new year- Nowruz
The Iranian New Year is the classical definition of a holiday. For 13 days straight, over 30 million Iranians celebrate the rebirth of nature for Nowruz, which means “new day.” The Iranian New Year is also referred to as the Persian New Year as it is the oldest in the history of New Year celebrations, having been commemorated for about 400 years now. The holidays usually come in mid-march each year. The day is celebrated with trumpets, colored eggs, and hearty bowl of Ash-e Reshteh noodle soup. The major part of the celebration is a deep cleaning that takes about three weeks before the vernal equinox whereby homes are tidied and cleared of any clutter to make way for a fresh start.
7. Ethiopian New Year- Enkutatash
The Ethiopian New Year is called Enkutatash, which means the “gift of jewels.” The celebration is held on September 11 at the end of the big rains. The day is commemorated with dancing, singing, and celebrations. Some of the cities conduct spectacular religious celebrations even though it is not a religious holiday.
Every religion and culture has credible reasons for conducting the New Year celebration on specific dates. Even that, the day is special for everyone as it signals the end of the current year and ushers a new year. Whatever your date of celebration, the new year is a day for making merry and forgetting all your previous troubles.