Ringing in a Not-So-New Year
Is January 1 the beginning of the year for non-Christians?
BY: Arthur Magida
The Muslim New Year falls on the first day of the month of Muharram and marks the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. This is known as the hegira, and usually falls between April and July.
The traditional Hindu calendar celebrates New Year's Day, or Deepavali, in the late fall. Religious Buddhists celebrate their New Year on May 8, which is also Buddha's birthday. And Baha'is celebrate their New Year--New-Ruz--on March 21.
In Japan, a secular New Year's Day coincides with the Western calendar's New Year. People start preparing for the holiday on December 29 by preparing special dishes, which are preserved so housewives don't have to work on Shoats, which occurs from January 1 to 3. On January 1, Japanese go to shrines and pray for happiness. On the other two days of the New Year's celebration, children receive money from their parents, families visit relatives, and everyone plays special New Year's games, such as kite flying or card games based on 100 famous poems.
And let's not forget that before 1582, the Papal States and other Italian city-states celebrated New Year's on December 25, which, of course, is also Christmas.
As this list shows, the beginning of a year varies from country to country and religion to religion. So invite your Iranian friends and let them try to make as much sense from our New Year's as they can. Maybe it'll make more sense to them than it does to a lot of the rest of us.