Did you know the world celebrates a new year every two months? Calendars fall into four types, lunisolar, solar, lunar, seasonal, besides calendars with “years” of fixed length, with no intercalation. Most pre-modern calendars are lunisolar.
Calendars that are classified as seasonal rely on changes in the environment rather than lunar or solar observations. The examples of lunar calendars are the Islamic and some Buddhist calendars, while most modern calendars are solar, based on either the Julian or the Gregorian calendars.
In August this year, Muslim countries rang in a new year on the Islamic calendar. 1442 AH (AL HIJRI) will last from Aug 20, 2020, to approximately Aug 8, 2021 – twelve days shorter than the 365 days of the Gregorian year. This date, which is set by Saudi Arabia, is based on astronomical calculations of moon cycles and while many countries in the region follow the Saudis’ lead, others wait until they can spot the new moon themselves, causing slightly different observation dates for the holiday.
Saudi Arabia has also recently started celebrating the January 1 New Year celebrations whereas as in Uzbekistan, the Persian New Year Nowruz is celebrated in March. Nowruz is considered the main new year’s celebration – and main festival of the year – in Iran and Afghanistan, while it is celebrated as “Spring Festival” in much of Central Asia.
In Southeast Asia, January 1 and regional celebration Songkran coexists peacefully. Its date used to be determined by the lunar Hindu calendar, but has since received set Gregorian dates varying slightly by country for convenience’s sake. In India, the Hindu calendar’s new year is celebrated on various days in March and April depending on the region, while January 1 celebrations are also popular.
In China, where the lunar new year occurs in January or February, Jan 1 is a public holiday but rather insignificant compared to the massive Chinese new year’s celebration lasting seven days.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day holiday commemorating the end of the seven days of Creation from the Book of Genesis. The festival includes rituals that are both performed with fanfare and with quiet introspection.
Wishing you all a very prosperous, safe and a great start to the New Year 2021.