Every culture has its own way of celebrating the new year, and many cultures celebrate a different new year than that of the Gregorian calendar. Whether it is a solar new year, a lunar one or just a day that is important to a culture, ideas and celebrations of the beginning of the year are as intricate as the cultures they stem from. Here are just a few of the other new year celebrations across the globe and calendar.
Samhain: The Celtic new year
The Celtic festival of Samhain was both a time of celebrating the beginning and a time of honoring the spirits of the ancestors. According to Celtic mythology, the year was divided into a light and dark half, each corresponding to the seasons. Samhain was the beginning of the dark half of the year, celebrated on Oct. 31, and is the origin of the modern Halloween celebrations. While the details of the festivities varied from tribe to tribe, they usually included communal feasts and the honoring of ancestors and spirits.
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the new year in Judaism. Rosh Hashanah refers to the head or first of the year in Hebrew. It is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, Tishrei. This usually falls in September or October. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as a contemplative and introspective holiday with religious ceremonies and prayer services. It is also the start of the Days of Awe, which ends with Yom Kippur.
New Year’s Eve
The start of the new year that the majority of people across the world celebrate, Jan. 1, is based off of the Gregorian calendar. This became the major festival of the new year in Europe when Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire. Prior to this, most of Europe celebrated the new year at the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21.
The Gregorian New Year is one of the most common celebrations of the beginning of the year today; however, many cultures celebrate it differently. In Cuba, Hungary, Austria and Portugal, it is customary to eat pork on New Year’s Eve as these countries believe that pigs represent prosperity and progress. Other feasts in Mexico, Greece and the Netherlands include round cakes to symbolize the year coming to a close. In the U.S., watching the ball drop in Time Square on television and fireworks are an iconic traditions across the country.