Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Year in many traditions

Yesterday was the day of the Chinese Lunar New Year! I thought it would be interesting to see when other traditions celebrate their New Year, too. Nearly every major religion celebrates a new year, but the diversity in the timing of the new year is amazing!

(New Years Fireworks over Hong Kong...not sure what year.)

African (Ethiopian) –

September 11. "It's said that this day has been celebrated every year since the Queen of Sheba returned home after visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem. Tribal chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with jewels. And so the New Year's Day festivities began."

Anglo-Saxon –

The eve of December 24 (which, back then, would have been the night before the December 25th Winter Solstice).

Baha'I New Year – Naw Ruz – on the Vernal Equinox which was also the traditional Persian and Ancient Roman New Year.

British/Celtic Ancient – Samhain, October 31st.

Buddhist –

"In Theravadin countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later."

Christian – January 1st

Daoist – Chinese New Year – Solar New Year: usually around Feb 4th, when the sun reaches 315 degrees longitude. Lunar New Year: on the day of the second new moon after winter solstice

Egyptian Ancient –

"The first new moon following the reappearance of Sirius after it disappeared under the horizon for 70 days was established as the first day of the New Year ( Egypt: wepet senet) and of the achet (flood) period--even if the Nile had not yet started to rise." (Usually this occurred around the Summer Solstice)

Hindu –

"The Hindus of Nepal begin their new year Nava Varsha in the third week of March, and the people of Kashmir start the Kashmiri Lunar year - Navreh - in the second week of March. The southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh begin their new year - Ugadi - in late March or early April. The Maharashtrians celebrate their new year Gudi Padwa, during the same time."

Inca –

"…at Cuzco, the capital city of the Inca, there was an official calendar of the sidereal-lunar type, based on the sidereal month of 27 1/3 days. It consisted of 328 nights (12X271/3) and began on June 8/9, coinciding with the heliacal rising (the rising just after sunset) of the Pleiades; it ended on the first Full Moon after the June solstice (the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere)."

Jainist –

October 29 Jain New Year – Celebrated on the day after Diwali, this is the new year's day for the Jain religion (year 2065 in 2008). It is the day of the attainment of Moksha by Mahavir Swami and the day when his chief disciple Gautam Swami attained Kevalgnan.

Jewish –

September 30, 2008 Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) "begins on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Tishrei), is also called the Day of Judgment and Remembrance. It begins the Ten Days of Penitance. Originally, it was the day of the creation of man and woman. In Mishnaic times, it was the new year for years, for release, and for vegetable tithes. Rosh Hashanah 2008 begins the year 5767 in the Jewish calendar."

Mithraic – Winter Solstice.

Muslim –

"The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which some Muslims partake on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or emigration, Prophet Muhammad made to the city now known as Medina. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the seasons."

Roman Ancient – the Romans originally celebrated New Year on the Vernal Equinox, but it was later moved to January 1, the day the Senate began its session.

Shinto –

January 1 – 3: Shogatsu (or Oshogatsu)

Sikh –

Vaisakhi is one of the most significant holidays in Sikh calendar, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699; which marks the Sikh New Year.

Sumerian –

"The New Year´s Festival could be held in the autumn as well as in the spring. We translate Sumerian zagmuk, which means "beginning of the year", and the Akkadian akitu, which has uncertain meaning, but basically means New Year´s Festival because these feasts are essentially what the modern term indicates - festive celebrations of a new beginning in the annual cycle. However, in the Near East, Nature offers two starting points within the solar year, the one at the end of winter and the other at the end of the even more deadly summer. In Mesopotamia, the rains were important; in Babylon, the Akitu festival was celebrated in Spring, at the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox, in the month of Nisan, whereas in Ur and Uruk the festival took place in the fall as well as in the Spring, in the months of Tishri (or Teshris in the poem above) and Nisan."

Zoroastrian –

"No Ruz, new day or New Year as the Iranians call it, is a celebration of spring Equinox. . . . . The ancient Zoroastrians would also celebrate the first five days of No Ruz, but it was the sixth day that was the most important of all. This day was called the Great No Ruz (No Ruze bozorg) and is assumed to be the birthday of Zoroaster himself."

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