New Year's Day : Celebration, History & Tradition

First day of January is known as New Year. This is the day on which a new calendar year begins and the year count of calendar increases by one.

Updated: November 4, 2019

First day of January is known as New Year. This is the day on which a new calendar year begins and the year count of calendar increases by one.

History of New Year's Day:

This day is believed to have a Romanian origin. Janus, the God of beginnings after whom the month January was named, was the one to whom the day was dedicated. It is believed that the current tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Day originated in the 7th century when people of Netherlands and Flanders celebrated the day. New Year's Day coincided with the Annunciation of Jesus in some cultures. The New Year signifies that the time has arrived to bid farewell to the current year and to welcome the New Year. 

Celebration of New Year's Day:

January first as the beginning of a new year is almost global now. However, in some countries like China, New Year's Day, or the first day of the New Year, is celebrated according to their own calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. Regional or local use of other calendars continues, along with the cultural and religious practices that accompany them.
New year celebrated in various countries differs in day and is based on the calendar they follow. The way of celebration is also different in different countries.

But almost all the celebrations start from December 31st itself, gesturing the New Year with a passionate and intense countdown. In countries like the US, Australia, Malaysia and other European and Western cultures, people congregate at a place to watch fireworks as the New Year's Day descends. In many parts of the world, music concerts are arranged to celebrate the going of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. In countries like the UK and Netherlands, people often run into water, also known as Polar Bear Plunges, to celebrate New Year's Day.

New Year's Day Tradition:

Certain parts of the world have specific traditions associated with the day. For example, in Scotland, the street party on this day is very famous. In Switzerland, there is the tradition of organizing the finals of Spengler Cup Ice Hockey Tournament on New Year's Day.
On 31st night people party and celebrate with music, enjoying liquor and food and dancing till the wee hours of the morning. Various TV shows are organized specifically to remember the year gone by and to beckon the New Year.

In India, New Year's Day is an optional holiday. Some employees may choose to take the day off on this day, however, most offices and businesses remain open. People in all parts of India dress colorfully and indulge in fun filled activities such as singing, playing games, dancing, and attending parties. Night clubs, movie theatres, resorts, restaurants and amusement parks are filled with people of all ages.
People greet and wish each other Happy New Year. Exchanging messages, greeting cards and gifts are part of the New Year celebration. People planning for new resolutions for the coming year is a common sight. Live concerts are organized in large cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai which are attended by Bollywood stars and other well-known personalities. Large crowds gather to attend such shows, while some individuals prefer to celebrate with their close friends and family members. New year celebrated in various countries differs by month or season. These are as below:


  • January 1st is the first day of the civil year in the Gregorian calendar that is celebrated by most of the countries around the world.
  • January 1st is not an Orthodox Christian religious holiday. However, it is  a religious holiday, because it is the feast of the circumcision of Christ (seven days after His birth), and a commemoration of saints.
  • Orthodox nations make civil celebrations for the New Year. People who adhere to the revised Julian calendar which synchronizes dates with the Gregorian calendar, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Syria, and Turkey, observe both the religious and civil holidays on 1st of January.
  • In other nations and locations such as Georgia, Israel, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Ukraine, where Orthodox churches still adhere to the Julian calendar, the civil new year is observed on January 1st of the civil calendar, while those same religious feasts occur on January 14.

East Asian New Year:

  • The Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year, is celebrated every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, when the spring is about to begin.  The exact date falls any time between January 21st and February 21st of the Gregorian Calendar.
  • As Vietnamese using a lunar Calendar similar to the Chinese calendar, the Vietnamese New Year is the same day as the Chinese New Year. In Tibet New Year is Losar and falls between January and March. The Korean New Year is a Seollal or Lunar New Year's Day. The first day of the lunar calendar called Seollal, is more meaningful for Koreans.


  • New year is celebrated in India in various regions from March to April.
  • The Telugu and Kannada New Year known as Ugadi, generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka states in southern India celebrate the advent of New Year's Day in these months. The first month of the new year is Chaitra Masa.
  • In the Kashmiri calendar, the holiday Navreh marks the New Year in March-April.
  • Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu year by the people of Maharashtra, India and Sanskar Padwa is celebrated in Goa. This day falls in March-April and coincides with Ugadi.
  • The Sindhi festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated on the same day as Ugadi/Gudi Padwa to mark the celebration of the Sindhi New Year.
  • Thelemic New Year falls on either March 19, 20, or 21, depending on the vernal equinox, which is The Feast for the Equinox of the Gods on the vernal equinox of each year to commemorate the founding of Thelema in 1904.
  • The Iranian New Year, called Nowruz, is the day containing the exact moment of the Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 20 or 21, marking the start of the spring season. The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Iranian New Year of Nowruz and is celebrated by the Parsis in India and by Zoroastrians and Persians across the world.
  • The Balinese New Year is called Nyepi, which is based on the Saka Calendar and it falls on Bali's Lunar New Year (around March). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation that is observed from 6 AM until 6 AM the next morning.


  • The new year of many South and Southeast Asian calendars falls between April 13 to 15, marking the beginning of spring.
  • Tamil New Year is celebrated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on the first of Chithrai which falls on April 13, 14, or 15. In the temple city of Madurai, the Chithrai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple. A huge exhibition is also held, called Chithrai Porutkaatchi. In some parts of Southern Tamil Nadu, it is also called Chithrai Vishu.
  • The new year of Punjabi/Sikh is Vaisakhi which is celebrated on April 14 in Punjab according to their nanakshahi calendar.
  • Nepal New Year is celebrated on the 1st of Baisakh Baisakh which falls on 12-15 April in Nepal. Nepal follows Vikram Samvat as an official calendar (not to be confused with Nepal Era New year).
  • The Dogra of Himachal Pradesh celebrate their new year Chaitti in the month of Chaitra.
  • Maithili New Year (Jude Sheetal), Naya Barsha, is also on the 1st of Baisakh Baisakh (April 12-15) of Vikram Samvat, an official Hindu calendar of the Mithila region of Nepal and adjoining parts of India.
  • Assamese New Year called as Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is celebrated on April 14 or 15 in the Indian state of Assam.
  • Bengali New Year called as Pohela Boishakh or Bangla Noboborsho is celebrated on the 1st of Boishakh which falls on April 14 or 15 in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal and Tripura.
  • Odia New Year called as Maghe Sankranti is celebrated on April 14 in the Indian state of Odisha. It is also called Vishuva Sankranti or Pana Sankranti.
  • Manipuri New Year or Cheirouba is celebrated on April 14 in the Indian State of Manipur with much festivities and feasting.
  • Malayali New Year is celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala in mid-April.
  • The new year is celebrated along with Tamil/ Malayali New year April 14 or 15 in western parts of Karnataka where Tulu is spoken. In other parts the new year is most commonly celebrated on the day of Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian new year. In Kodagu, in Southwestern Karnataka, however, both new year, Yugadi (corresponding to Gudi Padwa in March) and Bisu (corresponding to Vishu in around April 14 or 15), are observed.
  • The Water Festival a similar way of new year celebrations that take place in many Southeast Asian countries, on the day of the full moon of the 11th month on the lunisolar calendar each year. The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation. But it is now fixed from April 13 to 15. Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect. It is also the traditional new year of the Dai peoples of Yunnan Province, China.
  • In Burma it is known as Thingyan, Songkran in Thailand, Pi Mai Lao in Laos and Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia.


  • The New Year of the Kutchi people occurs on Ashadi Beej. This is 2nd day of Shukla paksha of Aashaadha month of Hindu calendar which falls between June 22nd and July 22nd. This day is associated with beginning of rains in Kutch.
  • Odunde Festival is a celebration on the 2nd Sunday of June, where "Odunde" means "Happy New Year" in the Yorube Nigerian language.


  • Neyrouz, the Coptic New Year occurs on August 29 in the Julian calendar, except in the year before a Julian leap year, when it occurs the next day.
  • Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, occurs on the same day as Neyrouz.

Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere:

  • In Chitral district of Pakistan and parts of India the Pathans Kalasha celebrate their Chowmus which marks the beginning of their year.
  • The Marwari New Year called as Thapna is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali, which is the last day Krishna Paksha of the Ashvin month & also the last day of the Ashvin month of the Hindu calendar.
  • The Gujarati New Year called as Bestu/Nao Varas is celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali which occurs in mid-fall, either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in early spring. The Gujarati community celebrates the New Year after Diwali all over the world to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year.
  • The Sikkimese celebrate their new year called Losar.
  • The Nepal Era New year is celebrated on the fourth day of Diwali.
  • Some neo-pagans celebrate their interpretation of Samhain (a festival of the ancient Celts, held around November 1st) as a New Year's Day representing the new cycle of the Wheel of the Year.


  • The Mizo in northeast India celebrate their Pawl Kut in December.
  • The Islamic New Year occurs on Muharram which usually occurs about eleven days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. This is because the Islamic calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days.

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