The year 2017 is officially under way, but how do different cultures celebrate the start of the New Year?

Iroquois New Years celebration
Iroquois New Years celebration

For some, the first of January marks the start of the new calendar; however, there are celebrations such as the Chinese New Year, the Islamic New Year, and many others that welcome the year on a completely different date and in a variety of different ways.

This year, the Chinese New Year will take place on January 28. It is celebrated all across Canada with traditions such as fireworks, gifts, and specially cooked meals shared by family and friends. This festival starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and lasts for 15 days, ending on the date of the full moon.

Certain Indigenous cultures also choose the 28 of January for celebration, not necessarily because of religion, but because they, too, observe the Winter Solstice. Some choose the date right before the solstice, such as the Umatilla tribes; whereas others, such as the Iroquois tribes choose the date when the new moon appears. They then host traditional ceremonies, feasts, dances, and choose new council members, although each tribe celebrates it differently

On the other hand, the Islamic New Year is welcomed much earlier and lasts for a single day, much like on the first of January. For 2016 it started on September 20 and ended on the 21, although the dates change every year. Before starting the New Year, Muslims fast, or in other words refrain from food and drink until a certain time in the day. Then, on the date of the New Year, they have a big meal with their families.

Persian New Years celebration attire
Persian New Years celebration attire

“Ever since I was born, my family has celebrated Eid Norooz,” said grade 10 Riverside Secondary student, Soha Samii, “This takes place on March 20, which indicates renewal and rebirth, or in other words, the beginning of spring.”

 

No matter how different cultures and countries celebrate this occasion, they all signify the beginning of a new year and a fresh start both physically and emotionally all over the world.