For the most part, the world runs on the Gregorian calendar, with 365 days, or 12 months in a year, and leap years to boot. The year ends on December 31 and begins on January 1, New Year’s Day.
But there are several cultures that also celebrate New Year’s Day later in the year. These cultures follow lunar, solar, and other hybrid calendars to tell time.
Below are 11 cultures that celebrate their New Year’s Day on a day that isn’t January 1.
1. Chinese New Year
February 8, 2016.
Also called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year signifies the beginning of the spring harvest season. Red envelopes filled with money are presented to family and friends, and typical sweet treats like egg-filled moon cakes are enjoyed by all. Colourful dragons and lantern displays can be seen around the world on this day. 2016 will mark the Chinese Year of the Red Fire Monkey, which denotes energy, vigor, and vitality in the coming year.
2. Seollal (Korean New Year)
February 8, 2016.
Several south-east Asian cultures celebrate New Year’s Day on the Lunar New Year. But the way each subculture commemorates the day differs. In Korea, New Year’s marks a three-day holiday where families give thanks to a bountiful year past. Many dress up in colourful attire called hanbok, whilst others perform an ancient tea offering ritual called charye.
3. Nyepi (Balinese New Year)
March 9, 2016.
Balinese New Year marks the first day of the lunar-based Saka Calendar, which is followed by Balinese and Javanese cultures. Unlike other cultures that welcome the new year with fanfare, Nyepi is a day of self-reflection and rest. Most of the island is closed on this day, with the exception of hospital emergency wards. New Year’s Eve, however, is celebrated with large fire rituals throughout the city.
4. Nowruz (Iranian New Year)
March 20, 2016.
Also celebrating the commencement of Spring, Nowruz is celebrated by both Zoroastrian and Baha’i communities. The date itself coincides with the Northward Equinox, which falls in mid-March each year. The day typically celebrated with trumpets to herald the new year, coloured eggs and pots of sprouting grains to signify growth, a hearty bowl of Ash-e Reshteh noodle soup, and most famously, with a good spring cleaning.
5. Ugaadhi (Telegu and Kannada New Year)
April 8, 2016.
The southern Indian states of Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh celebrate Ugaadhi according to their lunar-based calendar. The day is celebrated with sweets, fireworks, and new clothes. Most notable snack is the Ugaadhi pachadi, a mango sweet and sour chutney consumed either as a side dish or on its own. Gudi Padwa (in Maharashtra) and Cheti Chand (in Sindhi-speaking Indian communities) New Year’s festivities also fall on this day.
6. Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese New Year)
April 14th, 2016
Though Aluth Avurudda is a Sinhalese festival, it coincides with Tamil New Years and is celebrated by most people in Sri Lanka. Unlike other cultures, whose New Year’s Day welcomes harvest, Aluth Avurudda marks the end of the harvest season. It also coincides with one of two instances when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka. Locals celebrate the day by opening their front doors to encourage visits by family, friends, and even strangers. The preparation of small oil cakes called kavum, and several tropical plantain dishes are popular at this time, too.
7. Puthandu (Tamil New Year)
April 14, 2016.
Puthandu celebrated annually on April 14, follows the solar calendar. The day is celebrated with new clothes, music, sweets, and rice flour kolams (street art) at the front of homes. Puthandu is celebrated predominantly in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. However other Tamil Diasporas in Malaysia and Singapore also celebrate the holiday.
8. Diwali (Marwari and Gujarati New Year Day)
October 30, 2016.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Hindu, Sikhs, and Jains the world over. However for Marwari and Gujarati communities in North India, Diwali marks the start of their new year. These communities, who made up the prominent mercantile and entrepreneurial classes of Ancient India, celebrate the day by giving thanks to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
9. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
October 2 to October 4, 2016.
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. According to Jewish religion, in the days following the creation of the universe God was yet to determine the fate of mankind. Hence, through quiet observance Jewish people believe to allow God to decide their fate for the following year. Honey and apple are common additives in food around this time, with sweetness signifying positivity and all things good.
10. Raʼs as-Sanah al-Hijrīyah (Islamic New Year)
October 3, 2016
Islamic New Year marks the first day of Muharram, the first month of the Muslim Calendar. It celebrates emigration of Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, known as Hijra. What makes this New Year’s Day most unique is that according to the Muslim Calendar each day begins at sunset, with the New Year itself ushered by the first sighting of the moon. The holiday is celebrated by Muslims the world over, though not with the same excitability associated with Eid.
11. Aboriginal Murador New Year
October 30, 2016.
The Western Australian Aboriginal tribe of Murador celebrated New Year’s Day on what coincides with October 30 in the Gregorian calendar. An important day in the tribe’s calendar, it marked a time for friendship, reconciliation, and giving thanks to the year gone by. The Murador people are now an extinct tribe, though their culture lives on in artifacts and text.