Coverage of the start of the new year is never exclusive to just the United States. The annual Times Square New Year’s Eve broadcast frequently cuts to live video in other countries, showing people around the world celebrating the exact moment the new year begins in their part of the globe.
But the “‘new year’ is a construct,” according to one viral post from last New Year’s Eve. The person who made the post cited a conversation with someone from Nepal who celebrates the new year in April and is in the year 2077. Back on Sept. 11, Pope Francis called for prayers for the Ethiopian people as they celebrated the new year.
Does every country celebrate the start of the new year on Jan. 1?
No, not every country celebrates the start of the new year on Jan. 1. Some countries use different calendars and mark the start of the new year at a completely different time of year while others recognize Jan. 1 but celebrate the new year on dates that are significant to their region or culture.
WHAT WE FOUND
Most countries use what’s called the Gregorian calendar. This calendar, first adopted by Pope Gregory in the 1500s, sets Jan. 1 as the beginning of the new year and is currently in the year 2021 A.D.
A few countries, however, operate on entirely different calendars.
Both Iran and Afghanistan have used similar versions of the solar hejrī calendar for nearly a century, according to Encyclopedia Iranica. Next March, both countries will enter the year 1401.
Their new year begins on the first day of spring — March 21 in most years — on the first day of the month Farvardin in Iran, according to the Iranian government.
Two other countries also use their own unique calendars. Nepal uses a version of the Hindu calendar and is currently in the year 2079, according to Nepal’s American embassy. The year 2080 will begin on April 13 for Nepal. Ethiopia’s year is divided into 12 months, each 30 days long, plus a 13th month with five or six days, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ethiopian New Year is on the 11th or 12th of September.
A few countries, like Israel and Bangladesh, use both the Gregorian calendar and their own calendars for different purposes. In both countries, Jan. 1 is not a government holiday — but the local calendar’s new year is. For Israel, that’s the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, typically in September or October. For Bangladesh, the new year begins in mid-April on a date similar to Nepal’s.
One of the most well-known traditional new year’s celebrations is the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is based on the country’s historical lunisolar calendar and is often celebrated in February. China has used the Gregorian calendar since 1912, only referencing its previous calendar for dating traditional holidays. As a result, Jan. 1 is China’s official New Year’s Day public holiday — while the lunar new year is a seven-day holiday called the “Spring Festival,” according to the Chinese State Council’s English website.
But China isn’t the only country in the world to celebrate the new year twice. Several countries celebrate lunisolar new years similar to China, such as Vietnam’s Tet celebration, which often falls in January or February. Many south Asian countries celebrate the new year in mid-April.
Indigenous communities around the globe celebrate their new year at various points in the year. In South America, the “Andean New Year,” Willka Kuti, is celebrated in mid-June and was declared a national holiday in Bolivia in 2010. The Yakut people of Siberia celebrate a new year festival from June 10 to June 25. The K’iche’ people of Guatemala celebrate a new year ceremony every 260 days.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated the current year in Nepal is 2072. The year is 2079. This article has been updated to reflect that correction.
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