New Year’s Day – the First of Several

Posted on December 31, 2007. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Spirituality |

Most of us in the world today use, as our primary calendar, that known as the “Gregorian”. The Gregorian calendar came into popular usage between 1542, when it was decreed by Pope Gregory, and as late as 1926, by which time it was adopted by Russia and China. It’s amazing to think that there are people alive today who used other systems and calendars in their childhood.

In MY childhood, although the common calendar was always used, my multi-cultural extended family also celebrated two other New Year’s Days. These New Year celebrations have long traditions, going back thousands of years.

Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, beginning on the 1st of the 4076th year (in 2008). It comes fairly soon in the Gregorian year, and will be celebrated next on February 8. This date will begin the Year of the Rat. Chinese years are named for one of 12 animals, and are thought to embody certain qualities these animals posses. This was an important holiday in San Francisco where I grew up. I remember well the huge parade, headed by a Dragon, and the red Lai-see envelopes with money inside given to children. If you’d like to know the animal qualities for the year you were born, go here. I’ll be back in February to wish you “Gung Hay Fat Choy“.

chinese-new-year.gif

The first month of the Hebrew calendar is actually Nissan (starts April 6, 2008), however, the celebration known as Jewish New Year comes in the autumn. In 2008 it begins with Rosh Hashanah, on September 30 & October 1, and is followed ten days later with Yom Kippur on October 9, both in the Hebrew month of Tishrei. These holidays are among the most important and sacred of the Jewish year. (The #1 most important remains the Sabbath, celebrated every Saturday), and are times of reflection and atonement.

jewish-new-year.jpg

Other New Year dates I acknowledge, but did not observe in my youth are Islamic New Year (the next, for year 1429, is approx. January 10, 2008, depending upon the full moon sighting), and Japanese New Year, which begins on January 1st, as does the Gregorian, but lasts for three days. This time is seen as a “fresh start” for commerce and activities.

So, I’ll wish you a very good New Year–several times!

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14 Responses to “New Year’s Day – the First of Several”

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008

in malaysia, the red packets are called ang pow, literally meaning ‘red packet.’ i was born in the year of the (wooden) ox, hence my penchant for stuffed cows or anything with a cow print. the year after next will be the year of the ox!

we wish happy new year by saying kong hei fatt choy in cantonese or gong xi fa cai in mandarin.

during cny, lion dances are common at open houses (which is a malaysian concept whereby literally anybody is invited to come for food and drink), we eat yee sang made up of raw ingredients arranged neatly, before we as a group of people toss it with our chopsticks as high as we can. fun!

In Chinese astrology I am a snake…Its reputation is kind of ambiguous but I like most of its qualities..โ€œGung Hay Fat Choyโ€œ, MoonMuse…

sulz, thanks for the info. about Malaysian CNY! It sounds a little bit different than ours, but fun and exciting. Oh, so that’s why you like cows so much–you are one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I was little, most of the Chinese people I knew were Cantonese speaking from Hong Kong. It looks like our transliteration of the Cantonese was different from yours, too. It probably sounds much the same when spoken. Now, in San Francisco, and all over the US, there are more people from mainland China. Isn’t culture interesting? I’ll talk to you about this again in February!

So, you are a snake, CV? That’s an elusive one! I can see those things in you, and it’s all good! I’m glad you enjoyed reading this. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was born in 1961, September and the Chinese zodiac says I am an OX – when I read it it does seem much like me – I am no way near a Virgo!

I still think the year should be decimal – that would just confuse everyone for decades! ๐Ÿ˜€

So, which are you, WILL, a surgeon or a hairdresser? ๐Ÿ˜‰
Decimal years? Hmmm. You mention “decades” which ARE decimal, but there are many counting systems based on 12, and…..oh, you’ve succeeded. I am confused…. ๐Ÿ˜•

I was brought up to acknowledge Chinese New Year as Sydney’s so multicultural and I’m so glad I was; the festivals here are wonderful and I love going along. I was born in the Year of the Rat, which is supposed to make for good writers, critics and publicists. Seems like a good match. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I imagine Sydney is much like San Francisco in that way, cj. I understand you have people from all over the world. Sometimes I miss the big city multi-cultural life, although there’s still a fair amount of that where I am now.
What I love, in addition to getting to know people of different backgrounds, is all the different cuisine! Yum.
You do have those positive rat-like qualities. ๐Ÿ˜‰ May they serve you well!

What a fascinating post. I loved it and I really enjoyed reading the comments too. As of yesterday Akismet started eating my comments so I hope you find this one in your spam filter.

I have de-spammed you, Brightfeather. This is the fourth time! The electrical magnificence of your personality must so overwhelm akismet, that it can’t learn you are safe for public consumption!
Well, thank you for your persistence, and I’m so glad you enjoyed our multicultural exploration.

The other New Year that I celebrate is Naw-Ruz, the first day of the Baha’i calendar, which falls on March 21. It also happens to be the first day of the Persian calendar, originating from Zoroastrianism.

John, Happy New Year to You, as well.

Deirdra, thank you so much for adding these to the discussion. I shall put the date on my calendar, and as they are on/near the spring equinox, it’s a date I already recognize. I learned that the Persian calendar is both older and more accurate than the Gregorian. I have a couple of cousins who are Baha’i, but I don’t see them often, and I didn’t know they had a calendar too.

[…] New Year 4706 is here! I wrote elsewhere that my extended family celebrates this holiday, and it works as a better “New Year” […]

[…] posted before about the Gregorian calendar, which is the one most of the world uses for commerce, even if they have a different one for […]


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