New Year

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted by Yohannes Zewde; Saturday 29, December 2012


New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count is incremented. In many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner.[1] The New Year of theGregorian calendar, today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January, as was the case with the Roman calendar. There are numerous calendars that remain in regional use that calculate the New Year differently.

The order of months in the Roman calendar was January to December since King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC, according to Plutarch and Macrobius. According to Catholic tradition, 1 January is the day of the circumcision of Jesus (on the eighth day from his birth), when the name of Jesus was given to him (Luke 2:21).

It was only relatively recently that 1 January again became the first day of the year in Western culture. Until 1751 in England and Wales (and all British dominions) the new year started on 25 March – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days (the change to 1 January took place in 1600 in Scotland).[2] Since then, 1 January has been the first day of the year. During the Middle Ages several other days were variously taken as the beginning of the calendar year (1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, 25 December).[citation needed][where?] In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy and the UK, 1 January is a national holiday.

For information about the changeover from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar and the effect on the dating of historical events etc., see Old Style and New Style dates.

With the expansion of Western culture to many other places in the world during recent centuries, the Gregorian calendar has been adopted by many other countries as the official calendar, and the 1 January date of New Year has become global, even in countries with their own New Year celebrations on other days (such as China and India). In the culture of Latin America there are a variety of traditions and superstitions surrounding these dates[clarification needed]as omens for the coming year. The most common modern dates of celebration are listed below, ordered and grouped by their appearance relative to the conventional Western calendar.


By month or season


  • 1 January: The first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar used by most countries. Eight of the twelve biggest Eastern Orthodox Churches which have adopted the Revised Julian calendar – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Syria, and Turkey – also celebrate 1 January as the New Year.
  • In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the civil New Year falls on Gregorian 14 January (1 January in the Julian calendar). Many in the countries where Eastern Orthodoxy predominates celebrate both the Gregorian and Julian New Year holidays, with the Gregorian day celebrated as a civic holiday, and the Julian date as the "Old New Year", a religious holiday. The orthodox churches of GeorgiaJerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine still use the Julian Calendar.
  • The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about four to eight weeks before spring (Lichun). The exact date can fall any time between 21 January and 21 February (inclusive) of the Gregorian Calendar. Traditionally, years were marked by one of twelve Earthly Branches, represented by an animal, and one of ten Heavenly Stems, which correspond to the five elements. This combination cycles every 60 years. It is the most important Chinese celebration of the year.
  • The Vietnamese New Year is the Tết Nguyên Đán which is for most times the same day as the Chinese New Year due to Vietnamese are using Chinese calendar.
  • The Tibetan New Year is Losar and falls from January through March.

January 1 had a long journey of ups and downs before it became accepted as the first day of the year in the modern calendar format.

It is believed that Julius Caesar, the celebrated Roman emperor, first proposed the idea of having January 1 as the first day of the year way back in 46 BCE. This is because the month of January has been named after the Roman God Janus. Janus is personified as a two-faced person, one face facing the front and the other facing the back, and he is believed to be the God of doors and Gates. This, to Caesar, symbolized transition from one year to the other. The then Roman celebration of the New Year was flooded with blood and drunkenness.

Later, with the rise in Christianity, the New Year was associated with the incarnation of God’s son, Christ. As such, March 25, Annunciation Day or Lady Day, was considered as the beginning of New Year. This is the day when Mary was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear God’s son Jesus.

When William the Conqueror (also known as “William the Bastard”, “William of Normandy”) took over the reins of England, he ordered January 1 to be established as the New Year to collaborate it with his coronation and with circumcision of Jesus (on the eight day from His birth on December 25). However, this was abandoned by people later as they joined the rest of the Christian world to celebrate New Year on March 25.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (also known as did away with the Julian calendar for good and established the modern day Gregorian calendar where January 1 was re-established as the beginning of a New Year. He also carried forward plans of converting Jews to Christianity and to torture them. As such, all through the medieval period and even a little thereafter, January 1 was associated with death of Jews and Judaism.

Today however, January 1 is internationally accepted as the beginning of New Year although many parts of the world have their separate New Year celebrations in different times of the year.


  • Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Northward equinox. Ancient celebrations lasted for eleven days.[3]
  • Aztec New Year
  • Nava (new) Varsha (year) is celebrated in India in various regions in March–April.
  • New Year's Day in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar is on 14 March.
  • The Iranian New Year, called Nowruz, is the day containing the exact moment of the Northward equinox, which usually occurs on 20 or 21 March, commencing the start of the spring season. The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Iranian New Year of Nowruz, and is celebrated by the Parsis in India and by Zoroastrians and Persians across the world. In the Bahá'í calendar, the new year occurs on the vernal equinox on 21 March, and is called Naw-Rúz. The Iranian tradition was also passed on to Central Asian countries, including Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Uighurs, and there is known as Nauryz. It is usually celebrated on 22 March.
  • The Balinese New Year, based on the Saka Calendar (Balinese-Javanese Calendar), is called Nyepi, and it falls on Bali's Lunar New Year (26 March in 2009). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation: observed from 6 am until 6 am the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. Although Nyepi is a primarily Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.
  • The Telugu New Year generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh and TamilNadu in India celebrate the advent of New Year's Day in these months. This day is celebrated across entire Andhra Pradesh as Ugadi(meaning the start of a new Year). The first month is Chaitra Masam. Masam means month. This day is a government holiday in TamilNadu too.
  • Kashmiri Calendar, Navreh (New Year): 5083 Saptarshi/2064 Vikrami/2007–08 AD, 19 March. This holy day of Kashmiri Brahmins has been celebrated for several millennia.
  • Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu year by the people of Maharashtra, India. This day falls in March or April and coincides with Ugadi. (see: Deccan)
  • Ugadi, the Telugu and Kannada New Year is celebrated by the people of Andhra PradeshKarnataka ans TamilNadu in India as the beginning of a new year according to the Hindu Calendar. The first month of the New Year is Chaitra.
  • Sindhi festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated on the same day as Ugadi/Gudi Padwa to mark the celebration of the Sindhi New Year.
  • The Thelemic New Year on 20 March is usually celebrated with an invocation to Ra-Hoor-Khuit, commemorating the beginning of the New Aeon in 1904. It also marks the start of the twenty-two day Thelemic holy season, which ends at the third day of the writing of The Book of the Law. This date is also known as The Feast of the Supreme Ritual. There are some that believe the Thelemic New Year falls on either 19, 20 or 21 March, depending on the vernal equinox, this is The Feast for the Equinox of the Gods which is held on the vernal equinox of each year to commemorate the founding of Thelema in 1904. In 1904 the vernal equinox was on a 21st and it was the day after Aleister Crowley ended his Horus Invocation that brought on the new Æon and Thelemic New Year.


  • The Assyrian New Year, called Rish Nissanu, occurs on the first day of April.

Mid-April (Northern spring)

The new year of many South and Southeast Asian calendars falls between 13 and 15 April, marking the beginning of spring.

  • Tamil New Year (Puthandu) is celebrated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on the first of Chithrai (சித்திரை)(13 or 14 or 15 April). In the temple city of Madurai, the Chithrai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple. A huge exhibition is also held, called Chithrai Porutkaatchi. In some parts of Southern Tamil Nadu, it is also called Chithrai Vishu. The day is marked with a feast in Hindu homes and the entrance to the houses are decorated elaborately with kolams.
  • Punjabi/Sikh Vaisakhi is celebrated on 14 April in Punjab.
  • Nepali New Year is celebrated on the 1st of Baisakh Baisākh (12–15 April) in NepalNepal follows Vikram Samvat (विक्रम संवत्) as an official calendar. (Not to be confused with Nepal Era New year)
  • Assamese New Year (Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu) is celebrated on 14–15 April in the Indian state of Assam.
  • Maithili New Year or Jude-Sheetal too fall on these days.It is celebrated by Maithili People all around the world.
  • Bengali New Year (Bengaliপহেলা বৈশাখ Pôhela Boishakh or Bengaliবাংলা নববর্ষ Bangla Nôbobôrsho) is celebrated on the 1st of Boishakh (14–15 April) in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal.
  • Oriya New Year (Vishuva Sankranti) is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian state of Orissa.
  • Manipuri New Year or Cheirouba is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian State of Manipur with much festivities and feasting.
  • Sinhalese New Year is celebrated with the harvest festival (in the month of Bak) when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries). Sri Lankans begin celebrating their National New Year "aluth awurudu (අලුත් අවුරුදු) " in Sinhala and "Puththandu (புத்தாண்டு)" in Tamil. However, unlike the usual practice where the new year begins at midnight, the National New Year begins at the time determined by the astrologers. Not only the beginning of the new year but the conclusion of the old year is also specified by the astrologers. And unlike the customary ending and beginning of new year, there is a period of a few hours in between the conclusion of the Old Year and the commencement of the New Year, which is called the "nona gathe" (neutral period). During this time one is expected to keep off from all types of work and engage solely in religious activities. It will fall on 13 April for the year 2009.
  • Malayali New Year (Vishu) is celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala in mid April.
  • In some parts of Karnataka, the new year may be celebrated in mid-April, although it is most commonly celebrated on the day of Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian new year.
  • The Water Festival is the form of similar new year celebrations taking place in many Southeast Asian countries, on the day of the full moon of the 11th month on the lunisolar calendar each year. The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed on 13–15 April. Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect, but as the new year falls during the hottest month in Southeast Asia, many people end up dousing strangers and passersby in vehicles in boisterous celebration. The festival has many different names specific to each country:
  • In Burma it is known as Thingyan (Burmeseသင်္ကြန်MLCTSsangkran)
  • Songkran (Thaiสงกรานต์) in Thailand
  • Pi Mai Lao (Lao:ປີໃໝ່ Songkan) in Laos
  • Chaul Chnam Thmey (Khmerបុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី ) in Cambodia.
  • It is also the traditional new year of the Dai peoples of Yunnan Province, China. Religious activities in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism are also carried out, a tradition which all of these cultures share.


The Kutchi people celebrate Kutchi New Year on Ashadi Beej, that is 2nd day of Shukla paksha of Aashaadha month of Hindu calendar. As for people of Kutch, this day is associated with beginning of rains in Kutch, which is largely a desert area. Hindu calendar month of Aashaadh usually begins on 22 June and ending on 22 July.

Northern fall (autumn)

  • Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew for 'head of the year') is a Jewish holiday commemorating the culmination of the seven days of Creation, and marking God's yearly renewal of His world. The day has elements of festivity and introspection, as God is traditionally believed to be assessing His creation and determining the fate of all men and creatures for the coming year. In Jewish tradition, honey is used to symbolize a sweet new year. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten with blessings recited for a good, sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.[4]
  • In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the New Year, called Neyrouz, coincides with 11 September in the Gregorian calendar between 1900 and 2099, with the exception of the year before Gregorian leap years, when Neyrouz occurs on 12 September. The Coptic year 1723 began in September 2005. The Ethiopian Orthodox New Year, called Enkutatash, falls on the same date as Neyrouz; the Ethiopian calendar year 1999 thus began on 11 September 2006.
  • The Marwari New Year is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali, which is the last day Krishna Paksha of Ashvin month & also last day of the Ashvin month of Hindu calendar.
  • The Gujarati New Year is celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali (which occurs in mid-fall – either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar). The Gujarati New Year is synonymous with sud ekam i.e. first day ofShukla paksha of the Kartik month -, which is taken as the first day of the first month of Gujarati lunar calendar. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in early spring. Gujarati community all over the world celebrates the New Year after Diwali to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year.
  • The Nepal Era New year (see Nepal Sambat) is celebrated in regions encompassing original Nepal. The new year occurs in the fourth day of Diwali. The calendar was used as an official calendar until the mid 19th century. However, the new year is still celebrated by citizens of original Nepal, the Newars.
  • Some neo-pagans celebrate their interpretation of Samhain (a festival of the ancient Celts, held around 1 November) as a New Year's Day representing the new cycle of the Wheel of the Year, although they do not use a different calendar that starts on this day.
  • The now deceased Murador Aboriginal tribe of Western Australia celebrated New Years on what is known on present day calendars to be the 30 October. A time of reconciliation and celebration of friendship, the Murador tribe were said to have placed great importance on the past as well as the year that was coming[5]
  • The French Revolutionary Calendar, in force in France from 1793 to 1805 and briefly under the Paris Commune in 1871, began the calendar year on the day of the Southward equinox - September 22, 23 or 24.


  • The Islamic New Year occurs on 1 Muharram. Since the Muslim calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days, the Muslim New Year occurs about eleven days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar, with two Muslim New Years falling in Gregorian year 2008.


Christian liturgical year

Main article: Liturgical year

Since the 17th century, the Roman Catholic ecclesiastic year has started on the first day of Advent, the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew's Day (30 November). According to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the liturgical year begins at 4:00 pm[dubious – discuss] on the Saturday preceding the fourth Sunday prior to 25 December. The same liturgical calendar is followed by churches descended from it, including the Anglican and Lutheran Churches.

The Eastern Orthodox Church liturgical calendar begins on 1 September – proceeding annually from the Nativity of the Theotokos to the celebration of Jesus' birth in the winter (Christmas), through his death and resurrection in the spring (Pascha / Easter), to his Ascension and the Assumption of his mother (Dormition of the Theotokos / Virgin Mary) in the summer.


Historical Christian new year dates

During the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire years began on the date on which each consul first entered office. This was probably 1 May before 222 BC, 15 March from 222 BC to 154 BC, and 1 January from 153 BC.[6] In 45 BC, when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, he continued to use 1 January as the first day of the new year.

In the Middle Ages in Europe a number of significant feast days in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church came to be used as the beginning of the Julian year:

  • In Christmas Style dating the new year started on 25 December. This was used in Germany and England until the thirteenth century, and in Spain from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.
  • In Annunciation Style dating the new year started on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. This was used in many parts of Europe in the Middle Ages. Annunciation Style continued to be used officially in the Kingdom of Great Britain until 1 January 1752, except Scotland which changed to Circumcision Style dating on 1 January 1600, the Act being passed on 17 December 1599.[7] The rest of Great Britain changed to Circumcision Style on 1 January preceding the conversion in Great Britain from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 3/14 September 1752. The UK tax year still starts on 6 April which is 25 March + 12 days, eleven for the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar plus a dropped leap day in 1800 [but not in 1900].
  • In Easter Style dating, the new year started on Easter Saturday (or sometimes on Good Friday). This was used all over Europe, but especially in France, from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. A disadvantage of this system was that because Easter was a movable feast the same date could occur twice in a year; the two occurrences were distinguished as "before Easter" and "after Easter".
  • In Circumcision Style dating, the new year started on 1 January, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.


Adoption of 1 January

It took quite a long time before 1 January again became the universal or standard start of the civil year. The years of adoption of 1 January as the new year are as follows:



Start year[8][9]

Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus[10][11]






Holy Roman Empire (~Germany)


Spain, Portugal, Poland


Prussia, Denmark[12] and Norway


France (Edict of Roussillon)


Southern Netherlands[13]




Dutch Republic








Britain, Ireland and
British Empire

except Scotland







1 March was the first day of the numbered year in the Republic of Venice until its destruction in 1797, and in Russia from 988 until 1492 (AM 7000). 1 September was used in Russia from 1492 until the adoption of the Christian era in 1700 via a December 1699 decree of Tsar Peter I (previously, Russia had counted years since the creation of the world—Anno Mundi).

Southward equinox day (usually 22 September) was "New Year's Day" in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. This was primidi Vendémiaire, the first day of the first month.


Time zones

Because of the division of the globe into time zones, the new year moves progressively around the globe as the start of the day ushers in the New Year. The first time zone to usher in the New Year is just west of the International Date Line. At that time the time zone to the east of the Date Line is 23 hours behind, still in the previous day. The central Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati claims that its easternmost landmass,

uninhabited Caroline Island, is the first to usher in the New Year.[14][15]


See also

  • New Year's Eve
  • Baby New Year
  • Chinese New Year
  • Indian New Year's days
  • Hogmanay
  • Islamic New Year
  • Japanese New Year
  • Khmer New Year
  • Korean New Year
  • Twelve Grapes
  • Matariki
  • Novy God
  • Nowruz
  • Old Style and New Style dates
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Sinhalese New Year
  • Thai New Year
  • Vietnamese New Year



  1. ^ Anthony Aveni, "Happy New Year! But Why Now?" in The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 11–28.
  2. ^ Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 (Act of the UK Parliament) - see also
  3. ^ Tek Web Visuals, Cochina. "New Year's Day". World e scan. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  4. ^ Ben, Tzvi (22 September 2006). "Rosh Hashanah: Prayers, Shofars, Apples, Honey and Pomegranates". Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  5. ^ Aboriginal Tribes of Australia. Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names Published 1974 page 27
  6. ^ Roman Dates: Eponymonous Years[dead link]
  7. ^ Chambers, Robert (1885). Domestic Annals of Scotland. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers. p. 157.
  8. ^ Mike Spathaky Old Style and New Style Dates and the change to the Gregorian Calendar: A summary for genealogists
  9. ^ "The Change of New Year's Day". 1 December 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  10. ^ Державні і професійні свята України та інші знаменні дати у січні 2012 року
  11. ^ Новоліття
  12. ^ Denmark named 1 January as the New Year in the early 14th century according to R.W. Bauer (Calender for Aarene fra 601 til 2200, 1868/1993ISBN 87-7423-083-2) although the number of the year did not begin on 1 January until 1559.
  13. ^ Per decree of 16 June 1575. Hermann Grotefend, "Osteranfang" (Easter beginning), Zeitrechnung de Deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuzeit (Chronology of the German Middle Ages and modern times) (1891–1898)
  14. ^ Harris, Aimee (April 1999). "Millennium: Date Line Politics"Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved 14 June 2006.
  15. ^ Greenwich (2008). "Greenwich Meantime, Kiribati"Kiribati Map. Retrieved 27 February 2008.