The Olive Way E-Newsletter 

January 2009

 

Happy New Years

 

January 1st is New Year’s Day.  Countries around the world mark the coming of the New Year with huge celebrations.  But do you know that there are many other New Years’ Days in the world?  Let us mark our calendars and remember to send our best wishes to our friends, colleagues, customers and clients, who may celebrate one of the following New Years’ Days as well:

 

January 14, New Year’s Day according to the Julian calendar, and observed by several Eastern Orthodox Christian countries such as Russia and Ukraine.

 

January 26, Chinese New Year’s Day.  The Chinese New Year follows the Chinese lunar calendar, and is also known as the Lunar New Year.  Its New Year’s Day varies from year to year on Gregorian calendar, but usually falls either in late January or February.   According to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms, spring begins on February 3rd, 4th or 5th on Gregorian calendar.  Traditionally the Chinese New Year is an occasion to celebrate the coming of spring, and therefore, in China, the Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival.  In the Chinese culture, the importance of the Chinese New Year is equivalent to that of Christmas in the West.  It is a time for family reunion, and of course, it is only complete with abundance of exquisite food.  The upcoming Chinese New Year is the Year of the Ox in the Chinese Zodiac.

 

The Lunar New Year is a major holiday in China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, and Vietnam.  In Korea, Mongolia and Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is also called respectively the Korean New Year, the Mongolian New Year and the Vietnamese New Year.  Although not a public holiday in Europe or America, the Chinese New Year is also celebrated in some major urban centres in these regions due to the high percentage of the Chinese population.

 

March 20, Iranian New Year’s Day (Nowruz, meaning “new day”).  Coming at the time of the vernal equinox based on the Iranian solar calendar, it marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year.  In addition to Iran, Nowruz is also celebrated in many places that used to belong to or influenced by the Persian Empire, such as Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East, some former Soviet republics, some ethnic groups in China’s Northwest, and Turkey.  The major tradition of Nowruz is the Haft Sīn (or the seven S’s) table.  Set on the table are the seven symbolic foods, starting with a letter “S” in Persian alphabet, each symbolizes rebirth, affluence, love, medicine, beauty and health, sunrise, and age and patience.

 

March 27, Hindi New Year’s Day.  In India's national civil calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the year.  The first day of Chaitra falls at the end of March or beginning of April, depending on the Hindu lunar calendar.  It is supposed to mark the beginning of spring.   It is a time for family gathering.  People dress up in new clothes and specialty foods are eaten on this day.

 

September 19, Jewish New Year’s Day (Rosh Hashanah).  It is in the seventh month (Tishri) on the Jewish calendar.  No work is permitted on this day.  It is a time for reflection.  Some practices include emptying pockets into the river, which symbolizes casting off sins, and dipping apples and bread in honey, which symbolizes the start of a sweet new year.

 

December 18, Islamic New Year’s Day (Al Hijra).  It is on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.  On this day in Islamic Year 1 (approximately 622 A.D.), Islamic prophet Muhammad began his migration from Mecca to Medina.  The Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram varies on the Gregorian calendar.  Islamic New Year’s Day is a relatively quiet time.  There is no celebration that is normally associated with New Year’s Day.  People gather in mosques for special prayers and readings.  They also reflect on the passing of time and their own mortality.

 

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of New Years, however I will let you explore the rest and add to your list.  On these days, you may give the gift of saying “Happy New Year” to those observing the respective New Years.  If you know the practices and other details, so much the better. 

 

Happy New Year!

 

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Have a comment?  Want to share your thoughts and stories with me or our readers?  Please send your email to us.  We look forward to hearing from you!

 

© 2008  Jacqueline Wu & Olive Kan Global.  All rights reserved.

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