Today we commemorate the beginning of a new 12-month cycle on January 1, according to the Gregorian Calendar, which is recognized as the accepted international system for dividing the year.
When the beginning of the year is not on January 1 — Curiosities
Although this tradition is virtually universal in Europe and much of the Americas, New Year’s celebrations are held in other parts of the world according to regional religious customs, some of which predate the creation of our successive almanac.
Willka Kuti’s two stars
The indigenous people of the highlands wait for the first rays of Tata Inti, which will purify them and allow them to start the new year with positive energies, while those of the lowlands wait for the morning star.
According to the predictions of Andean cultures, the year 2023, which is also the year 5231 of the Andean Amazonian calendar, marks the beginning of the new era of Pachacuti and the return of the planet to harmony and balance.
Bolivia’s main indigenous populations – the Quechua, Aymara and Guarani – celebrate the beginning of the year on June 21, which is also the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice.
Thousands of people gather on the eve at sacred sites such as Tiahuanaco, a spiritual center famous for the Sun Gate and the ruins of the Inca fortress of Samaipata.
Return of the Queen of Sheba in Enkutatash
On or about Sept. 11, Ethiopians celebrate New Year’s Day, a holiday commemorating the return of the Queen of Sheba 3,000 years ago, according to the Old Testament account.
The name Enkutatash, meaning “gift of jewels,” derives from the legend that, upon her return, her people gave her a magnificent tribute that served to replenish the royal treasury.
Custom dictates that religious ceremonies are held in churches to start the day, followed by a family gathering and the giving of new dresses to the children.
The youngest is in charge of handing out the wildflowers while everyone else sings Happy New Year. One of the most crowded temples during the celebrations is St. Mary’s Church on Mount Entoto.
Two horses engage in combat while a female in heat watches them. An ethnic group in the mountains of southeastern China known as the Miao celebrates the New Year in this way.
According to legend, a conflict between brothers who wished to marry the same woman was resolved by a battle between horses some 500 years ago.
Since then, horse fights attract villagers and onlookers when the spring festival begins in late January or mid-February, a spectacle that has been denounced by animal welfare organizations.
Samhain, doors to darkness
Few people know the original name of one of the best-known U.S. holidays in the Gaelic language, which is used in Scotland.
Between the night of October 31 and dawn on November 1, Celtic peoples celebrate Samhain, the end of summer.
The dark and light parts of the year are separated by these hours. Although March 14 is designated as the first day in the Nanakshahi calendar, which governs the time for Sikhs, Baisakhi brings together the different Indian religions in a celebration as if it were the beginning of a new year.
Jews welcome the new year between September 1 and mid-October, on a day that varies from the Gregorian calendar.
According to Hebrew tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the first day and commemorates the moment when God created Adam and Eve. The Day of Judgment gives way to a period of 10 “terrible days” (Yamim Noraim) leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
At that time, the Jews were to examine their mistakes, repent and forgive those who had wronged them.
God forgives his people for their sins at the end of this penance, allowing them to enter the New Year clean. Before and after the Rosh Hashanah prayer, the ram’s horn, or shofar, is sounded.
Baisakhi, Equality Day
Gobing Singh, the tenth and last guru of the Sikhs, proclaimed that all people were created equal and abolished caste distinctions in 1699.
Sikhs, a religious group with roots in northern India and southern Pakistan, celebrate this day between April 13 and 14, which is also harvested time.
Although March 14 is designated as the first day of the Nanakshahi calendar, which governs the time for Sikhs, Baisakhi brings together the different Indian religions in a celebration as if it were the beginning of a new year.
Songkram Water Games
Thailand welcomes the New Year between April 13 and 16.
Massive water games that entertain tourists, locals and, above all, children – the most enthusiastic take part in “ambushes” on motorcyclists and passers-by – are the focal point of this festival, which is based on Buddhist tradition.
Originally, the last day of the celebration was reserved for paying homage to the elders and other spiritual figures of the community. It was enough to pour a few drops of scented water on the shoulders to wish someone a prosperous new year in appreciation of their good fortune.
This wet euphoria heralds a season of copious rains and bountiful harvests for the Thais. This practice is also practiced in Burma, Laos and Cambodia.
With information from Yahoo!