New Years Observances

Renee Borcas, Media Content Editor

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While ringing in the new year is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to what is to come, the designation of New Year’s Day on Jan. 1 is an arbitrary moment in our cycle around the sun. The celebration becomes even more subjective when time zones are taken into consideration. The moment the new year begins is not an astronomically significant event, but is rather the moment that many groups of people have chosen to mark this passing of time. Naturally, different cultures have decided to observe this change at their own chosen juncture. Here are some further instances of the new year that have been traditions for people throughout history.

1. The Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar marks the new year in many cultures around the world on Jan. 1. It came to be after reform from the Julian calendar, which had math that was slightly off in accordance with how long it takes to rotate around the sun. Since the Earth’s rotation around the sun is not exactly 365 days, the Gregorian calendar includes a leap day every four years. While February usually has 28 days, in a leap year there are 29 days in the month.

This calendar is used in most countries around the world, but people still celebrate it in a variety of ways around the globe.
From dropping the ball in Times Square, to dressing in white on the beaches in Brazil, and smashing plates for good luck in Denmark, there is plenty of variety in how this holiday is celebrated.

2. Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year observes the Lunar New Year, which is on the new moon of the first lunar month. This year it falls on Feb. 16, but due to the nature of the moon, it can occur any time between Jan. 21 and Feb. 21.

Celebrations last for several days and most notably feature traditions such as lion and dragon dances, fireworks and spending time with loved family and friends.

Traditionally there is a 60 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, which is annually represented by an animal. 2018 is the Year of the Dog, which according to the Chinese zodiac, is said to be associated with patience and stability.

3. Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is a two day observance of the Jewish New Year. It happens 163 days after the first day of Passover and will take place this year from sundown on Sept. 9 through sundown on Sept. 11.

As tradition, Rosh Hashanah is usually celebrated with prayer, sacred text, reflection and holiday meals. Another custom includes playing the shofar, which is a hollowed out ram’s horn. Many Jewish people still celebrate with the Gregorian turn of the year as well.

The holiday commemorates the seven days of creation in the Hebrew Bible and the story of Adam and Eve, who are the first man and woman in the scripture. These passages describe the separation of man from God and his promise to all of creation.

4. Christian liturgical year
Depending on denomination, Christians celebrate the new year in order with their liturgical calendars. This can vary depending on whether the person follows the Eastern Orthodox church, is Catholic, or is Protestant.

The Eastern Orthodox tradition is to observe the beginning of their new year on Sept. 1, as it proceeds several holy days, and runs through Sept. 14. Historically this day was also used because it was the same day as the new beginning to the Roman and Byzantine Empire’s tax cycle.

Catholics and Protestants are more likely to celebrate on the first day of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas.
While other denominations may observe different dates, many of these people still celebrate the new year along with the Gregorian calendar.

5. Nyepi
Nyepi is the Balinese new year and refers to being a “Day of Silence.” It occurs along the Balinese calendar, which follows the cycle of Bali’s Lunar New Year. The holiday usually takes place in March and is on March 17 this year. Nyepi is a holiday in Indonesia and is observed through silence, fasting and meditation. People stay in their homes, without access to the streets and nearly all businesses are closed. While first responders are around in case of emergency, most people take time to respect the Hindu holiday, whether they follow the religion or not.

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