Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Year Traditions Around the World

New Year is the time for festivity and merriment. People around the world celebrate their respective new years with great fervor. For the countries following the Gregorian calendar the New Year falls on 1st of January and across the globe huge celebrations take place to usher the New Year.

In other races like the Hindus, Chinese, Islamic and Jews the date of New Year may differ from that of Gregorian calendar but there is no dearth of pomp and show in celebrating the event. Knowing about New Year celebrations across different cultures and different countries can make an interesting reading. Here are glimpses of New Year celebration around the world.

New Year Traditions Around the World
New Year Traditions Around the World
 Since different races of the world follow different calendars the New Year around the world is celebrated at different dates. The Chinese and Hindu follow calendars that are based on the movements of both sun and moon. The Chinese New Year celebration begins on new moon and ends at full moon, i.e. the New Year celebration lasts for 15 days. Whereas, the Hindu calendar marks the beginning of the harvest season in the country as New Year.

Chinese New Year: The Chinese New Year differs in date from the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese follow a calendar which is based on lunar-solar movements. The celebration of the New Year begins on new moon and ends with the full moon, 15 days later. Hence, Chinese New Year celebration is a grand occasion.

Since the cycle of the moon lasts for 29.5 days the Chinese insert an extra month on every few years to match with the solar calendar. The date for Chinese New Year therefore falls on different dates of the solar calendar.

Celebration of Chinese New Year is always grand. It’s full of fun, function, food and rituals. The most important ritual of Chinese New Year celebration is offering sacrifice to the ancestors. The ritual is said to unite the living members of the family with the departed ones. Since the ancestors are responsible for laying the foundation and wealth of the family the efforts to please them on the Eve of New Year is believed to bring good omen for the rest of the year.

Each day of the 15 days celebration has different significance. The first day is observed to welcome the Gods of the heavens and earth.

The second day is devoted to the ancestors as well as to the God. The Chinese celebrate the second day of the New Year as the birthday of all the dogs.

The fifth day of the celebration is called Po woo when the families stay at home to welcome the God of wealth. Visiting friends and family on that day is regarded as bad omen.

From 6th to 10th day Chinese visit their friends and family and enjoy meals together. The 14th and the 15th days are celebrated as Lantern festival.

Hindu New Year: The Hindus follow the lunar solar calendar because of which their New Year falls on a different date from the Gregorian calendar. The Hindu New Year is known in various names at different parts of the country. In Assam it is called Bohag Bihu, in Bengal it is called Pohela Boishakh, in Punjab it’s known as Baisakhi, the Marathis called it Gudi Padwa. The Marwari community of India celebrates their new year on Diwali. Although the New Year celebration has different names the enthusiasm remains the same. As is the common practice, on this day the Hindus of India will clean their houses and decorate them with auspicious items like-rangolis, mango leaves, neem leaves, garlands and such, wear new clothes and pay respect to the elders.

Preparation of elaborate meals and visiting friends and families are common amongst Hindus. Hindu New Year celebration involves several religious customs and rituals. In most Hindu households oblation and pujas are offered to the Gods. On the day of Diwali, the Marwaris worship the Goddess of wealth and pray for her divine blessings for the rest of the year.

Fairs and parades are arranged at many parts of India to celebrate the New Year. On the whole the celebration of New Year takes the form of a grand cultural extravaganza in India.

Rosh Hashanah: Rosh Hashanah is the name of Jewish New Year celebration. The Jewish New Year takes the form of a solemn observation of the day since the Jews believe it as a day for judgment. The New Year is observed on the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.

The New Year day plays a very crucial role in defining the culture of the Jews. According of the Jewish beliefs the Rosh Hashanah is the New Year day for human, animals and legal contracts.

Islamic New Year: The day of Islamic New Year marks the beginning of the New Year as per Islamic lunar calendar. The New Year begins on the first day of Muharram as it happens to be the first month of the Islamic calendar. Since the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle the Islamic year is usually 11 to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. In some Islamic countries the day of the New Year is determined by the sighting of moon.

On this day Muslim will prepare their traditional meals and sweets and don new clothes. Visiting friends and family and exchanging gifts are integral part of Islamic New Year celebration.

Celebration of New Year in different cultures is a perfect blend of age old traditions and customs. Sometimes the preparation to celebrate the New Year begins 1 month before the date. In different culture the New Year day has different significance but the fervor remains the same. Hence, people across the world look forward to usher a new year and hope to make a fresh start in it.

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