There are many different unique dates and New Year celebrations around the world besides New Year’s day on the first official day of the Gregorian calendar. Here are five of them:
- Chinese New Year – every year the changing date falls between Jan. 21 – Feb. 21, depending on when the new moon of the first lunar month falls. In 2012, the celebration is January 23. The 15-day observance is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and is known as “Spring Festival.” This year it is the Year of the Dragon, specifically the water dragon. Festive spirits will be high with all kinds of celebrations as the dragon represents great power.
- Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is celebrated in autumn on the first two days of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. For Jews, it is a time of introspection and to look back at their mistakes over the past year and plan changes for the one ahead. The holiday is marked with the eating of apples dipped in honey as a symbol for for a sweet new year. Most often the day is spent in a synagogue, as it is one of the holiest days of the year.
- Islamic New Year – also known as the Hijri New Year. It falls on the first day of Muharram, which is the first month in the Islamic calendar. Special prayers are said and the appearance of the new moon is recorded in mosques. This fairly quiet new year celebration is on Nov. 14 in 2012.
- Thai New Year – also called the Songkran is celebrated from April 13-15. One of the main activities is the throwing of water. Thais throw containers of water, use water guns, and even garden hoses to soak each other. The water is symbolic in the hopes that is will bring good rains in the new year. All Buddha statues and images are also cleansed for good luck and prosperity.
- Ethiopian New Year – also called Enkutatash, meaning the “gift of jewels.” It will be on Sept. 11, at the end of the big rains. Dancing, singing, and celebrations happen as the people celebrate this spring festival. Some cities have spectacular religious celebrations although it is not exclusively a religious holiday.