New Year’s is celebrated around the world; however, it’s not always celebrated on January 1st. In the modern world, January 1st is the start of the new calendar year, where we party until the wee hours of the morning and ring in the new year in different time zones around the globe, and make resolutions of things that we’d like to change in our lives (which usually are broken by March). The modern world has celebrated New Year’s on January 1st for about 400 years.

The New Year is a time of rededication -- to bring luck, change and prosperity to our lives. Many tie in who they are with and what they do at midnight when the New Year starts with how the coming year will progress. One thought is that the first visitor to enter a home on New Year’s Day will bring either good or bad luck for the rest of the year – very lucky would be the entrance by a tall, dark-haired man. Also considered lucky is the eating of black-eyed peas, cabbage or rice.

The celebration of new years dates back at least 4000 years to ancient Babylon, but that new year began in the spring – the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox. The new year was tied into agriculture and astronomy and spring is the time of rebirth, newly planted crops and new growth.

Not every culture in ancient times used the same “calendar” so the new year occurred at different times because tinkering with the calendar caused the new year to fall out of synch with the sun and seasons.

The church viewed New Year’s as a pagan celebration, but as Christianity spread the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision was celebrated at the same time as the pagan New Year’s celebrations.

Besides the parties, ball drops & resolutions made on New Year’s today, it also means football and parades. Most notable is the Tournament of Roses Parade, which was started in 1886. Originally it celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California – but in 1902 the first Rose Bowl football game was played – and then replaced by chariot races for several years. The football game returned to stay in 1916.

The Chinese New Year falls in mid-January to mid-February – depending on the arrival of the second new moon after the winter solstice. Families gather for a New Year’s Eve feast and stay up late – believing it will prolong the lives of their elders. Firecrackers are set off to scare away evil spirits and paper seals on windows & doors keep evil spirits out as well.

Then on New Year’s Day small gifts are exchanged and they celebrate the Festival of Lanterns. People carry lanterns and join a parade led by a huge dragon. The festival is thought to light the way into the New Year.

In the Hindu religion, traditions vary. In parts of India, the New Year falls in late October with the Festival of Diwali. Small oil lamps are lighted along rooftops. Others in India wear flowers or display orange flags to celebrate the New Year.

Muslims celebrate the New Year in March – and as the New Year approaches they set grains of wheat or barley in small dishes and sprinkle them with water. When New Year’s arrives they have begun to sprout – reminding people of spring and new life.

The Japanese New Year is celebrated on January 1st but the day is commemorated through religious beliefs. A rope of straw is hung across the front of their homes to bring happiness & good luck and keep away evil spirits. The Japanese bring in the New Year with laughter so they will have good luck all year long.

The New Year in Vietnam is Tet Nguyen Dan – or Tet – and is another changeable holiday falling between January 21 and February 19. The Vietnamese believe that the first person to enter a home at New Year will bring either good or bad luck. They also believe that a god which resides in each home travels to heaven at New Year and reveals how good or bad the family members have been during the year that’s ending.

Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Jewish New Year and falls in September – October. This is the holiest of days in the Jewish faith, where people reflect of their wrongs of the past year so they can improve in the future. Religious services are held and the shofar blown and children are given new clothes for the New Year.

This is a Scotish aire partially written by the poet Robert Burns, but not published until after his death. “Auld Lang Syne” means ‘old long ago’ or ‘the good old days’ and is sung at midnight in nearly every English-speaking country to ring in the New Year.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


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Some Graphics from: Holidaze with Emma, Background from TRIPLES with EMMA.

Information from: New Year's Day - History, Traditions & Customs, History of New Year's Day and History of New Year's.

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