It’s time to ring in the New Year! In America, most of the celebrations usually happen on December 31st and January 1st. Most celebrate it with a party with family and friends, or will watch the New Year's Eve ball drop. But did you know that other cultures and religions have their own versions of New Year’s? Some see it as a time of repentance, to make up for past wrongdoings and make amends to start the New Year fresh. Others also see it as a celebration. Some follow other calendars, meaning they will celebrate it at a different time of the year. Rosh Hashanah and Chinese New Year are two examples of this. I was familiar with Chinese New Year before but only recently heard of Rosh Hashanah. In learning more about them, I decided that I wanted to highlight them in this blog post. There are so many other cultures and religions that celebrate New Year's in their own way, however, and you can find more information about them in books from our catalog.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew Calendar. This means it usually falls in September or October of the Gregorian Calendar. This month is named Tishrei and this is when they believe that God created the Earth. It also marks the beginning of the 10 days of awe, a time of prayer and repentance for the next year. Rosh Hashanah is considered a day of rest, and many will spend it praying in the Synagogue. Some will celebrate it for one day, while others will celebrate it for two. There are many traditions and customs that come with Rosh Hashanah. A “shofar”, a kind of trumpet, will be played as a sort of “call to repentance” (History.com Editors "Rosh Hashanah"). Apples dipped in honey are common foods eaten as it is believed to bring forth health and make the new year sweet. Challah is another very common food eaten. Some will greet others with the saying “L’shana tova tikatev v’taihatem” which translates to “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year” (History.com Editors "Rosh Hashanah"). Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish Holiday and ends the 10 days of Awe. It is often celebrated with a 25-hour fast (History.com Editors "Yom Kippur").
Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration that happens sometime between January 21st and February 20th. It follows the Lunar Calendar and is also known as the Lunar New Year. The celebrations often include decorating with items that are red and shooting fireworks. Red clothing may also be worn. This is because of an old legend where a monster named “Nian” (“Year”) attacked people. They warded Nian off by using fireworks and showing him things that were red since he hated it. This tradition carried on to this day, but luckily there is no monster to ward off. Feasting is another common way to celebrate the New Year and it can include special foods. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the last day, and it is probably the most recognizable one. During this celebration is the dragon dance, including the long, colorful dragon that is carried through the streets and is often associated with the holiday (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia).
How do you celebrate the New Year? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to seeing you all in 2022!
History.com Editors. “Rosh Hashanah.” History, 30 Aug 2021, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/rosh-hashanah-history
History.com Editors. “Yom Kippur.” History, 15 Sept. 2021, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/yom-kippur-history
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Chinese New Year". Encyclopedia Britannica, 1 Dec. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Chinese-New-Year. Accessed 31 December 2021