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. The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January (New Year's Day), as was the case with both the old Roman calendar and the Julian calendar that succeeded it. The order of months was January to December in the Old Roman calendar during the reign of King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC, according to Plutarch and Macrobius, and has been in continuous use since that time. In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the United States, 1 January is a national holiday.
During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, New Year's Day was variously moved, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, among them: 1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, and 25 December. These New Year's Day changes were generally reversed back to January 1 before or during the various local adoptions of the Gregorian calendar, beginning in 1582. The change from March 25 – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days – to January 1 took place in Scotland in 1600, before the ascension of James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603 or the formation of the United Kingdom in 1707. In England and Wales (and all British dominions, including the American colonies), 1751 began on March 25 and lasted 282 days, and 1752 began on January 1. For more 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.
A great many other calendars have been in use historically throughout the world, some of which count years numerically, and others that do not. The expansion of Western culture during recent centuries has seen such widespread official adoption of the Gregorian calendar that its recognition and that of January 1 as the New Year has become virtually global. For example, at the New Year celebrations held in Dubai to mark the start of 2014, the world record was broken for the most fireworks set off in a single display, which lasted for six minutes and saw the use of over 500,000 fireworks.
Nevertheless, regional or local use of other calendars persists, along with the cultural and religious practices that accompany them. In many places (such as Israel, China, and India), New Year's is also celebrated at the times determined by these other calendars. In Latin America, the observation of traditions belonging to various native cultures continues according to their own calendars, despite the domination of subsequent cultures. The most common dates of modern New Year's celebrations are listed below, ordered and grouped by their appearance relative to the Gregorian calendar.
Contrary to common belief in the west, the civil New Year of January 1 is not an Orthodox Christian religious holiday. The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar makes no provision for the observance of a New Year. January 1 is itself a religious holiday, but that is because it is the feast of the circumcision of Christ (8 days after his birth), and a commemoration of saints. While the liturgical calendar begins September 1, there is also no particular religious observance attached to the start of the new cycle. Orthodox nations may, however, make civil celebrations for the New Year. Those that adhere to the revised Julian calendar (which synchronizes dates with the Gregorian calendar), including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Syria, and Turkey, observe both the religious and civil holidays on January 1. In other nations and locations where Orthodox churches still adhere to the Julian calendar, including Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine, the civil new year is observed on January 1 of the civil calendar, while those same religious feasts occur on January 14 (which is January 1 Julian), in accord with the liturgical calendar.
The IranianNew 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.
Ugadi, the Telugu and Kannada New Year, generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states in southern India celebrate the advent of New Year's Day in these months. This day is celebrated across entire Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka as Ugadi (in Sanskrit, Yuga (era or epoch or year) + adi (the beginning or the primordial), start of a new year). The first month is Chaitra Masa. Masa means month. This day is a government holiday in Tamil Nadu, 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.
The Thelemic New Year on 20 March (or on April 8 by some accounts) 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.
The Thelemic New Year on April 8 which corresponds to the utterance of the Book of the Law in 1904.
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.
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 Avurudda (අලුත් අවුරුද්ද)" 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 the 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.
Western parts of Karnataka where Tulu is spoken, the new year is celebrated along with Tamil/ Malayali New year 14 or 15 April, although in other parts most commonly celebrated on the day of Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian new year. In Kodagu, in Southwestern Karnataka, however both new years, Yugadi (corresponding to Gudi Padwa in March) and Bisu (corresponding to Vishu in around April 14th or 15th), are observed.
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 since 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:
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.
Odunde Festival is a celebration on the 2nd Sunday of June, where "Odunde" means "Happy New Year" in the Yorube Nigerian language.
Northern fall (autumn)
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew for 'head of the year') is a Jewish, two day 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.
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 of Shukla paksha of the Kartik month, which is taken as the first day of the first month of the Gujarati lunar calendar. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in early spring. The 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 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
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.
The early development of the Christian liturgical year coincided with the Roman Empire (east and west), and later the Byzantine Empire, both of which employed a taxation system labeled the Indiction, the years for which began on September 1. This timing may account for the ancient church's establishment of September 1 as the beginning of the liturgical year, despite the official Roman New Year's Day of January 1 in the Julian calendar, because the indiction was the principal means for counting years in the empires, apart from the reigns of the Emperors. The September 1 date prevailed throughout all of Christendom for many centuries, until subsequent divisions eventually produced revisions in some places.
After the sack of Rome in 410, communications and travel between east and west deteriorated. Liturgical developments in Rome and Constantinople did not always match, although a rigid adherence to form was never mandated in the church. Nevertheless, the principle points of development were maintained between east and west. The Roman and Constantinopolitan liturgical calendars remained compatible even after the East-West Schism in 1054. Separations between the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical year and Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar grew only over several centuries' time.
During those intervening centuries, the Roman Catholic ecclesiastic year was moved to 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 on the Saturday preceding the fourth Sunday prior to 25 December (between November 26 and December 2). By the time of the Reformation (early 16th century), the Roman Catholic general calendar provided the initial basis for the calendars for the liturgically-oriented Protestants, including the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, who inherited this observation of the liturgical new year.
The present-day Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar is the virtual culmination of the ancient eastern development cycle, though it includes later additions based on subsequent history and lives of saints. It still begins on 1 September, proceeding annually into the Nativity of the Theotokos (8 September) and Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) to the celebration of Nativity of Christ (Christmas), through his death and resurrection (Pascha / Easter), to his Ascension and the Dormition of the Theotokos ("falling asleep" of the Virgin Mary, 15 August). (This last feast is known in the Roman Catholic church as the Assumption.) The dating of "1 September" is according to the "new" (revised) Julian calendar or the "old" (standard) Julian calendar, depending on which is used by a particular Orthodox Church. Hence, it may fall on 1 September on the civil calendar, or on 14 September (between 1900 and 2099 inclusive).
The present-day Coptic Orthodox liturgical calendar reflects the same fundamental ancient structures, even though its early break from Eastern Orthodoxy in 452 shows evidence of a separate development. The Coptic calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar, which Emperor Augustus reformed in 25 BC to keep it forever in synch with the Julian calendar, but it is not identical to the Julian calendar. The Coptic liturgical new year, at the feast of Neyrouz, synchronized with the Julian September 1 at a different point from the Gregorian calendar, has therefore a different degree of separation today. Between 1900 and 2099, Neyrouz occurs on 11 September (Gregorian), with the exception of the year before Gregorian leap years, when it occurs on 12 September. (The Coptic year 1731 began in September 2013.) The Ethiopian Orthodox new year, Enkutatash, falls on the same date as Neyrouz. The Ethiopian calendar year 2006 began on 11 September 2013.
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. In 45 BC, when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, and fixed 1 January as the first day of the year.
Later, with the dominance of Christianity, various dates for the New Year which had special significance to Christianity were adopted. For example, 1 January was associated with the incarnation of God’s son, Christ; 25 March was Annunciation Day or Lady Day. This is the day when Mary was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear God’s son Jesus.
When William the Conqueror took over the reins of England, he ordered that 1 January be established as the New Year to collaborate it with his coronation and with the circumcision of Jesus (on the eighth day from his birth on December 25). However, this was abandoned later as they joined the rest of the Christian world to celebrate New Year on 25 March.
In Annunciation Style or Lady Day Style dating the new year started on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation (traditionally named Lady Day). This was used in many parts of Europe in the Middle Ages. This style continued to be used officially in the Kingdom of Great Britain until 1 January 1752, except Scotland which changed to Modern Style dating on 1 January 1600, the Act being passed on 17 December 1599. The rest of Great Britain changed to Modern 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, although that year also featured a dropped leap day].
In Easter Style dating, the new year started on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), 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 Christmas Style or Nativity 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.
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:
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).
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.
^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, 1868/1993 ISBN 87-7423-083-2) although the number of the year did not begin on 1 January until 1559.