Happy New Year: Errr…which New Year is that?

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New Year’s Day observances vary around the world.

In the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day falls on January 1st, exactly seven days after Christmas Day. Most observers of the Gregorian New Year recognize the day as a typical holiday, these days without religious connotation in most cases. In the Julian calendar, New Year’s Day falls on the Gregorian January 14th, and is often considered a “Holy Day” (i.e., with religious connotations) by some staunch observers.

Regardless of when or how New Year’s Day is observed, some traditions are common across cultural and even religious lines. In most cases, New Year’s Day represents more than just an end of one period and the beginning of another. Indeed, the significance of beginning a new year spreads to many aspects of life, including reflections on the past year; development of resolutions and commitments for new beginnings; celebrations of hope; putting off of the old and welcoming the new.

Throughout the world there are numerous variations of New Year’s Day, and, as such, there are numerous variations of observances. Some examples include:

o The Chinese New Year: Known also as the Lunar Year, this falls each year at the first new moon of the first lunar month. The precise time may be between January 21st and February 21st. Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday of the year.

o The Tibetan New Year: Known as Losar, this falls from January through March, typically on the first day of the first lunar month (based on Tibetan lunar-month calendar). Losar is celebrated for 15 days through various (usually religious) rituals and ceremonies.

o The Iranian New Year: Known as Nourouz, this is the day which is associated with the exact moment of the vernal equinox (beginning of spring). In 2007, this day was March 20th.

o The Assyrian New Year: Known as Rish Nissanu, this occurs on April 1st (Gregorian).

Since New Year’s Day falls at different times for different cultures, celebrating and appreciating the day is up to the observer; thus, New Year’s Day becomes a day of many meanings, but with many commonalities too.

Happy New Year; whichever New Year you choose to observe!

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