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Groundhog's Day: It's New Years...Again

We are probably showing our age here, but who remembers the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day"? For those who don't, no worries, the basis of the movie is a TV weatherman (Bill Murray) who finds himself reliving February 2nd over and over and over again. While we aren't stuck in a single-day loop, we do find ourselves revisiting a New Year over and over in a 365-day timeline. How many New Year's can fit inside one year?


Gregorian New Year / Novy God / Shogatsu- January 1st

The Gregorian New Year is the most popular New Year celebration in the United States. Most all Myriad countries celebrate the eve and onto the next day.


Novy God is celebrated in Russia and also falls on January 1st. This holiday was created when Christmas was taken off the Soviet Union's calendars. So, the Novy God holiday does reflect Christmas for children as they are visited by Ded Moroz (Father Frost) in the morning with gifts.


Shogatsu is the Japanese New Year, considered to be the most important holiday in Japan as it symbolizes a fresh start. Before the year ends they celebrate bonenkai parties ("year forgetting parties") which celebrate leaving worries and fears from the old year behind.


Eastern Orthodox Church New Year - January 14th

This celebration is recognized with the Julian Calendar within the Orthodox Church. Countries recognizing this holiday are Russia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine.


Lunar New Year - February 10th

This New Year celebrates the 1st new moon inside the new year, so the day does move between January 21st - February 20th. Most commonly called Chinese New Year, though other countries celebrate the Lunar New Year like Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Depending on what country is how long this New Year lasts.


Tsagaan Sar - February 16th

Tsagaan Sar (Meaning "White Moon") is a New Year's celebration in Mongolia and is deeply connected to the lunar phases. As Mongolia has cold, harsh, and long winters, Tsagaan Sar serves as a warm welcome to spring and is celebrated with Buuz AKA minced meat dumplings.


Igbo New Year - 3rd week in February

The New Yam Festival (known as Orureshi in Idoma, or Iwa ji, Iri ji, Ike ji, or Otute depending on dialect), is named because yams are the first crops to be planted at the beginning of the season. Only yam dishes are served at the ceremony.


Nyepi - March 7th (Indonesia)

The New Year's Day of Complete Silence: On this day, the island of Bali turns off all its lights, stops traffic, and stops all world activities to meditate. However, Nyepi Eve is celebrated with paper-mache effigies called ogoh-ohog, built to represent mythological creatures in their parades.


Nowruz - March 21st (Iran)

Nowruz is marked as the first day of spring and is celebrated with the spring equinox. It promotes peace, the revival of nature, and solidarity between generations and families. It plays a vital role in strengthing ties and reflects traditions.


Kha b' Nissan - April 1st (Assyria)

Not only marking the first day of the new year but the first day of spring as well. Celebrated in 12 days, it tells the story of the goddess of love marrying the god of vegetation. Elaborate processes were one of the main feats of the holidays, as well as mass marriages. This tradition has mostly been retired as they've mostly been taken up by the Gregoria New Year holiday.


Ugadi - April 9th

Also known as Samvatsarādi (meaning "beginning of the year"), this day is observed with colorful patterns on the floor called Muggulu and decorations made with mango leaf. Preparations are started weeks in advance by cleaning the entire house, buying new clothes, and new items for the festival, and decorating the entrances of their homes with mango leaves.


Thingyan - April 13th

The Water Festival is the most important event in the Myanmar calendar,

starting the new year and symbolizing life and rebirth. Celebrated across five days decorated floats carry orchestras and young men down the streets to sing songs of the season. They also perform gyat, which is similar to rap focusing on hardships. It's called the water festival because they throw water to symbolize cleansing their sins, in more rural areas it's done with scented water in a silver bowl while in cities they use hoses, water pistols, and fire hoses. Everyone is fair game except pregnant women and monks.


Aluth Avurudda - April 13th - 14th (Sri Lanka)

Households are repainted, floors are buffed, and kitchens are scrubbed clean to make sweetmeats. Old clothes are thrown away and people end their year by taking a bath infused with herbs and oils. Come morning, the sounds of firecrackers and beating drums fill the streets as the festival has begun. The rest of the holiday is celebrated by sharing food with neighbors, blessing elders, and making pudding.


Songkran - April 13th - 15th

Much like Thingyan, this is also a water festival! This holiday puts importance on family with many Thai folks coming home to see their family. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran where water is poured on Buddha images and their hands to symbolize respect.


Chol Chnam Thmey - April 13th - 15th (Cambodia)

This New Year is Celebrated in Cambodia. Chol Chman Thmey, also goes by: Khmer, Moha Sangkranta, or Sangkranta. This is celebrated as a Solar New Year. The holiday is recognized as the end of the harvest season and farmers enjoy their crops before the rainy season begins. A special dish that is served during Khmer is Kralan - a cake made from steamed rice mixed with beans or peas along with grated coconut.


Puthandu - April 14th (Southern India, Sri Lanka)

The Tamil New Year is celebrated on the first day of the Hindi Solar calendar, bringing in the year with feasts and decorations. The holiday starts with getting up early to clean the house, bathing, and dressing in new clothes. They bring fruit, flowers, and sweets to the home to promote success and feast on primarily vegetarian dishes with a staple of mango pachadi.


Vaisakhi - April 14th

Started as a harvest festival, it celebrates the creation Khalsa order and promotes peace and justice. Sikhs begin the festival by going to a place of worship, afterwards they bright, colorful traditional clothing and join in parades down the streets. They offer free food to celebrate the community.


Pohela Boishakh - April 14th (Bangladesh) & 15th (India)

Starts the Bengali New Calendar year. This holiday is celebrated by Bangladesh citizens gathering in Dhaka and dancing with paper mache birds, fish, animals, and other cultural characters. They call it the parade of Mangal Shobhajatra. The new year was created after the demand for taxes using the Islamic Hijri calendar did not align with the harvest schedule, so a new calendar was created to make it easier to pay taxes due.


Hijri (Ra's as-Sanah al-Hijriyah) - July 7th - 8th (Islamic)

The Ra's as-Sanah al-Hijriyah is the Islamic New Year and is calculated by the start of Muharram month. The dates are calculated using Astronomy with new moons and the origin year as Muhammad's emigration from Mecca to Medine (around 622 CE on the Gregorian Calendar). With the year being calculated and around 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Hijri is different each year. It is important to note that Islamic calendar days start at sunsets. During this time, the customs are families gathering for special meals, exchanging greetings, and expressing gratitude for past blessings.


Matariki - June 28th

Matariki is the Maori name for the star cluster you'd most likely know as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. Matariki is known for celebrating the cycle of life and death, acknowledging the dead so their spirits could become stars. It was also time to share a bountiful harvest with friends and family.


Enkutatash - September 12th (Ethiopia)

Ethiopians have a 13-month calendar so their calendar trails the Gregorian calendar by 7 years and 8 months. The country follows the reading that God created the earth in September. Later in the bible, it is said that King Solomon gave Queen Sheha jewels during his visit. After the visit, yellow flowers bloomed signifying the end of a long drought and starting a new life/New Year. In honoring the Queen, the holiday was created and named Enkutatash "gift of the jewels". Ethiopians use this holiday as a time to forget grievances and embrace shared experiences.


Rosh Hashanah - October 2nd (Jewish)

This Jewish New Year starts on the 7th month (Tishrei) of the Jewish year. This season is a time to rejoice and do introspection. The holiday starts with the sound of a ram's horn (Shofar) to wake citizens so they can prepare. The holiday is known as Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment, where God opens the Books of Life and Death. Due to this, special petitionary prayers (Selichot) are a part of the ritual. Challah, a traditional bread, is made and the roundness represents the eternal cycle of life. To show hopes of a sweet New Year, the Challah is often dipped in honey and/or apples.


Aboriginal Murador - October 30th (Western Australia)

There isn't a lot that was said about this holiday as the Murador people are from an extinct tribe. The positive is their culture and celebrated and honored by others with their artifacts and texts. For this holiday, Western Australians gather together and celebrate friendships, reconciling, and giving thanks for going into another year.



Diwali - November 1st (India)

While Diwali is considered mostly a Hindu holiday it is also recognized by Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddism. For Hindus, the holiday is as big to them as Christmas is to Christians. The name came from the rows of clay lamps lit outside to symbolize inner lights that protect against spiritual darkness. In Jainism, Diwali marks the Nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. Sikhs celebrate Guru Hargobind Ji being freed from imprisonment. No matter which religion practices it, their similar ideology is this day celebrates victory of good over evil.



I want to point out that An Otter Milestone has recently studied these holidays. We find it interesting to learn about different cultures as America is the world's Tossed Salad/Melting Pot. Americans have different cultures that they may still celebrate in honor of their heritage, religion, or even a 1st generation American family. So, with research does come discrepancies. There may be dates, names, or lump holidays that connect and we have missed the mark. If this interests you, we hope it gives you a guidebook on looking into your interest more. In particular, the Lunar New Year is called different things in the countries that celebrate it.


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