New Year’s Day marks the start of a new year according to the Gregorian calendar, which is the Western or Christian calendar. A large part of the world runs on the Gregorian calendar, with the year ending on December 31st and beginning on January 1st.
This calendar was developed by Pope Gregory XIII, he was the one who reformed the previous calendar which was known as the “Julian Calendar” and was considered to be inaccurate as it didn’t reflect the real time it takes the earth to complete a full orbit around the sun.
The Gregorian calendar sets the 1st of January as the New Year and it has been so since 1582.
While the Gregorian calendar was adopted straight away by some European countries, others such as the U.K or the United States, didn’t embrace the Gregorian calendar until 1752. The year when 11 days were dropped.
Our western calendar, structures time around solar days and solar years.
However, many countries and cultures around the world follow lunar, solar, and other hybrid calendars to tell time, and not the Gregorian schedule.
These countries do celebrate New Year’s Day, on different dates. These are some examples:
Diwali, Hindi New Year Day
Diwali is India’s most important holiday, it is the Hindu “festival of lights“ and it celebrates the New Year and the triumph of light over darkness.
Diwali is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs the world over.
The “Panchanga” or Hindu calendar is the one that determines the dates of Diwali. It is a lunisolar calendar, which is based on lunar and solar cycles so it falls on different days each year.
People across India light thousands of little oil lights across the country, and the more lights, the better chances that “Lakshmi”-goddess of wealth and purity- will bring them prosperity.
The Chinese New Year
The Chinese New year, also known as “Lunar New Year” or “Spring festival” will take place in 2021 on Friday, February 12th .
People the world over, will welcome the year of the Ox, the second of all animals in the Chinese zodiac, and a much valued animal because he is considered hardworking and reliable.
In Chinese tradition, a different animal represents each of 12 years. The cycle of animals begins again in the 13th year.
The Chinese New Year, is based on a lunisolar calendar and therefore, incorporates elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar, designating both the phase of the moon and the time of the solar year.
It begins with the new moon at some point between January 21 and February 20 as per Western calendar.
Lunar New Year celebrations around the world, do have many similarities whether they happen at the same time as Chinese New Year or not.
These include; the use of colour, firecrackers, and the worshipping of ancestors or mythological deities.
For the Chinese, red is a symbol of good fortune and happiness, and it is widely used during the celebrations
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year
The Jewish calendar is lunisolar and “Rosh Hashanah”, the Jewish New Year, takes place the first day of the month of Tishrei.
In the Jewish calendar, Tishrei is the first month of the civil year and the 7th month of the ecclesiastical year.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day holiday commemorating the end of the seven days of creation from the book of Genesis.
It usually occurs during September and Jews everywhere celebrate God’s creation of the world.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a ten-day period of repentance in Judaism that ends with the “day of atonement” or Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year which sees Jewish people spend the day in synagogue praying for forgiveness for their sins.
The Islamic New Year
The Islamic New Year or Hijri New Year marks the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.
The first year of this calendar began in Gregorian CE 622 when the Prophet Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina with his people, known as Hijra.
In the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar, each day days begins at sunset, with the New Year itself ringing in by the first sighting of the moon.
As the first month of the year, Muharram is known as the month of remembrance and it is one of the most sacred months.
Willkakuti or the Aymaran New Year
This is a Native American New Year taking place in Tiwanaku, Bolivia. It is celebrated every June 21st coinciding with the winter solstice, when the earth is at its farthest point from the sun.
The New Year holiday marks the start of the Aymara New Year or Machaj Mara; it also marks the beginning of a new agricultural year.
The Aymara New Year is also a national holiday in Bolivia in recognition of the Aymara who inhabit the West of Bolivia and Southern Peru.