Top 10 New Year’s Celebrations From Around The World
Happy New Year!…maybe. It depends on where you live, really. There are literally billions of people around the world who celebrate different New Year’s, based either on their country’s cultural calendar, or based on their religion’s calendar year. So when the ball drops in the Big Apple, not everyone may be celebrating.
The following list of New Year’s Celebrations is ranked by how many people each New Year celebration they affect.
10. Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year (14 million)
While there are many countries with a larger population than the entire Jewish faith combined, Judaism is still incredibly well-known and spread out everywhere. For this reason alone, it would be illogical not to mention the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah, the first of the High Holy Days. Their New Year’s Day is typically celebrated in the fall, around the middle of September.
9. Tet Nguyen Dan – Vietnamese New Year (87 million)
This New Year’s celebration marks the beginning of growth on the Chinese lunar calendar, at the beginning of spring. Celebrated the same day as the Chinese New Year, it is Vietnam’s most significant and popular holiday. The day shifts, based on the first day of the first month of the new lunar year– meaning it can anywhere between the end of January, and the middle of February.
8. Songkran (115 million)
Celebrated April 13-15, the Songkran Festival marks the New Year for not only Thailand, but for many Southeast and Southern Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. While Thailand officially recognizes the Gregorian New Year as the start of the new calendar year, the Songkran Festival marks the traditional Thai New Year, observed as a civic holiday. During the hottest time of the year in Thailand, the locals celebrate by dousing each other in water.
7. Japanese New Year (127 million)
While the Japanese New Year is officially January 1st, the traditional cultural date is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, similar to the Korean and Vietnamese New Years. The New Year is a chance for sinners to atone for the 108 sins, according to Buddhism. At the same time, it is also a huge celebration including not only the ringing of bells for the atonement of sins, but watching traditional TV shows, playing specific games, and eating special foods.
6. Noviy God – Russian New Year (143 million)
Russian children had it hard for a few years, when Christmas trees were banned and Santa was unable to deliver presents to the Motherland. It’s a good thing that, a few years after this decision, the Russians adopted a New Year Fir Tree for Novy God, the non-denominational, non-Christian New Year. Grandfather Frost delivers presents for Noviy God, which is celebrated for a whole week, from Jan. 1-7.
5. Nowruz (300 million)
The “New Day” (in Syrian) is celebrated through many Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan, to name a few. Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster, and has been celebrated by the Persian peoples since at least the 2nd Century AD, though some records could indicate it was celebrated about half a millennium earlier. This New Year’s Day shifts yearly, based on the March equinox, marking the day when the hours of night and day are roughly equivalent.
4. Hindu/Indian New Year (.9-1.2 billion)
India is not completely comprised of people of the Hindu faith, and not all areas of India celebrate the same New Year. Therefore, pinning down a specific new year’s celebration for India and/or Hindu celebrations is problematic-at-best. That said, many of the different regions’ and sects’ celebrations revolve around the beginning of spring – usually around the middle of April. Interestingly enough, the Hindu calendar differs from region to region, just like the dialects of the Sanskrit language upon which the calendar is based.
3. Chinese New Year (1.3 billion)
The Chinese New Year has set the standard for many nations in the Far East for millennia. A lunisolar calendar, the beginning of the New Year is never the same, and can vary up to almost a month between January and February. But once that day hits, there are about 15 days of celebration, and about a fifth of the world’s population takes part, with red envelopes, fireworks and various other traditions, based on the specific region’s idiosyncrasies.
2. Hijri New Year – Islamic New Year (2.4 billion)
According to Islam, the first year was 610 AD, when Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. However, the Islamic year is about 11-12 days shorter than a Gregorian year, which means that the Hijri just passed on Nov. 14-15 for the year 1435 AH. Part of the reason that the New Year shifts is due to when the moon is sighted, which means that the first day of the New Year could shift. However, there are countries such as Saudi Arabia that use astronomical calculations to determine the Hijri.
1. Gregorian New Year (Most Of The World)
January 1st is when most of the world’s governments and business institutions recognize the beginning of the New Year. This is largely due to the Gregorian calendar’s adaptation across Europe and the Americas about 250 years ago, and the subsequent emergence of the Western powers setting the stage for the global marketplace. A side note that most people have no clue on – January 1st is also the date of Jesus Christ’s circumcision.