Happy New Year! Enjoy these cross cultural facts about new year’s around the world!
- It is only under the Gregorian calendar that New Year’s Day falls on Jan. 1. Traditionally the day has been observed as a religious feast, but in modern times the arrival of the New Year has also become an occasion for spirited celebration and the making of resolutions.
- The Lunar calendar determines the date of the Chinese New Year. The holiday is celebrated in many American cities with the roar of blazing firecrackers, dancing dragons, and traditional music.
- Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new year in the Jewish faith. Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew, “beginning of the year”), Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri (falling in September or October) by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and on the first day alone by Reform Jews. It begins the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, a period ending with Yom Kippur that is the most solemn of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days.
- Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday that begins Dec. 26 and extends through Jan. 1. Kwanzaa is Swahili for first fruits. This holiday is observed by African communities throughout the world. The focus is on, celebrating family, community, and culture. Kwanzaa has its roots in the ancient African first-fruit harvest celebrations. However, its modern history begins in 1966 when it was developed by African American scholar and activist Maulana Karenga.
- In the Middle Ages most European countries used the Julian calendar, therefore, they observed New Year’s on March 25th. It was also called Annunciation Day and celebrated as the occasion on which it was revealed to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God.
- The name January is derived from the Roman god Janus, the god of gates door. Hence the link of openings and beginnings associated with a new year. January was the 11th month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar; in the 2nd century BC, however, it came to be regarded as the first month. The, Romans offered sacrifices to Janus on January 1st, so that he would bless the new year.
- Tibetan Buddhists celebrate New Year’s in February as a celebration of spring. Much of the ritual of Tibetan Buddhism is based on the esoteric mysticism of Tantra as well as devotions that involve both yoga and mantra, or a mystical formula, and ancient shamanistic practices. On special holidays the temples, shrines, andaltars of the lamas are decorated with symbolic figures; milk, butter, tea, flour, and similar offerings are brought by the worshipers, animal sacrifices being strictly forbidden.
- The Roman New Year festival was called the Calends, and people decorated their homes andgave each other gifts. In early times, the ancient Romans gave each other New Year’s gifts of branches from sacred trees. Later they gave small items, such as nuts or coins, imprinted with pictures of Janus.
- The ancient Persians gave New Year’s gifts of eggs, which symbolized productiveness.
- In ancient Egypt, New Year was celebrated at the time the River Nile flooded, which was near the end of September. The flooding of the Nile was very important because without it, the people would not have been able to grow crops in the dry desert. At New Year, statues of the god, Amon and his wife and son were taken up the Nile by boat. Singing, dancing, and feasting was done for a month, and then the statues were taken back to the temple.
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