of the Villages

New Year celebrations around the world

The marking of a New Year is an age-old tradition around the world — common features of the celebrations are food, fireworks and reflection with friends and family. The forms and dates of these celebrations vary between different calendars, religions and cultures of course. While the Gregorian calendar (introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, mainly to deal with the problem of leap years) has mostly been used in the western world to set New Years Day as January 1st, lunar and solar calendars are acknowledged in other cultures, determining the dates and nature of the celebrations.


Gregorian New Year

1 January 2024

New Year’s Day marks the first day of the Gregorian calendar, something we’ve become very familiar with. While 25 March (named after the Roman god of war) was traditionally when New Year would be celebrated, this shifted during Roman times to January (more fittingly named after the Roman backward and forward-looking god Janus). While making resolutions for new beginnings is still customary, in more recent years New Year’s Eve has taken centre stage with firework displays and parties of friends and family to see in the New Year.



16 January 2024

Muharram marks the first month of the Islamic calendar, with the  martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad being celebrated on the 10th day of the festival (Day of Ashura). The traditions and rituals vary for the two major sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni, though the main emphasis for most is remembrance, self-reflection and expressing gratitude. Many people around the globe celebrate the period by visiting family, attending prayer sessions at mosques and fasting on or around the Day of Ashura.


Lunar New Year

10 February 2024

The exact day of the Lunar New Year changes each year — the months of the year are marked by moon cycles, so New Year is celebrated on the date of the first new moon of the Lunar calendar. This is most associated with Chinese New Year, but is widely celebrated in East Asia, with countries and cultures having their own sets of traditions. A common ritual is using this time to catch up with friends and family, with many people travelling to do so over this period. Fireworks are lit to ward away evil spirits, and houses are decluttered to mark the beginning of spring and the future of a New Year. The end of the New Year celebrations is known as the Festival of Lanterns when all types of lanterns are lit throughout the streets.



21 March 2024

Commencing on the spring equinox to celebrate the rebirth of nature, Nowruz (meaning ‘new day’ in Farsi) marks the first month of the Iranian solar calendar. Also known as Iranian or Persian New Year, it’s widely celebrated in countries across Central Asia. Poetry is recited, bonfires are leapt over and folk music is performed to mark the overcoming of sorrow and darkness, while houses are cleaned to pave a way for the future. It’s a time for family gatherings, feasts, street festivals and sports, varying depending on where it’s celebrated.



1 November 2024

A Hindu lunar celebration, Diwali is a five-day Festival of Lights centred around new beginnings. There are differing customs depending on where it’s being celebrated, with various gods prayed to, but the theme of light continues throughout. People clean and decorate their homes to welcome in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, with entry ways of coloured sand, rice paste and flowers. It’s a time for visiting neighbours and family in the lead up, with Diwali being celebrated by praying to Lakshmi, sitting down for a meal and ending with fireworks.