New Year for the Whole Year

We’re almost a whole week into 2011, now which means that the revelry of New Year’s Eve is already a distant memory. But what if you enjoyed it so much that you don’t want to wait a whole year for the next one? Allow me to present the dealchecker guide to to ringing in the New Year the whole year round!


14th January – The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Julian calender which means that their year runs approximately 14 days behind our Gregorian one. Whilst most of the Eastern Orthodox countries such as Greece, celebrate the New Year on the Gregorian date, the 14th of January is “Old New Year” and is a day of religious celebration for those who follow the orthodox churches of Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, and Ukraine.

Where to celebrate it? Try Belgrade, the capital of Serbia – The city is having something of a resurgence and has a reputation as an up and coming city. Belgrade’s New Year’s celebrations are extensive with street parties and outdoor concerts. And the best bit is that they happen twice. You’ve already missed out on the first lot, which featured a concert and fireworks outside the House of the National Assembly. The second round is on January 14th, this time with fireworks organised by the Serbian Orthodox Church and fired from the Church Cathedral of Saint Sava.

Belgrade fireworks – Image from ognjen.odobasic.


3rd February – Although the 3rd of February is the actual date of the Chinese New Year in 2011, the celebrations will continue until the full moon, 15 days later. The celebrations, known as the Spring Festival are the most important dates in the Chinese calendar and are marked by huge celebrations in China, Hong Kong and Macau as well as Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Over the holiday houses are cleaned and decorated to welcome in the New Year, families gather together to feast and exchange gifts, plus cities will hold large public fireworks displays. The festivities culminate in the Lantern Festival on the full moon, when children go out at night to temples carrying ornate paper lanterns.

Chinese New Year Lights Fuzhou – Image from Jack Parkinson Pics

Where to celebrate it? Although Hong Kong’s New Year’s celebrations differ from those on the mainland, there’s plenty for the traveller to immerse themselves in. The highlights include a carnival-like New Year parade, a firework and light show over Victoria Harbour, and New Year flower markets – no fewer than 14 are held across the city.

Light Show in Hong Kong – Image from geographyalltheway

If you don’t want to travel quite so far, you’ll find celebrations closer to home in all China Towns across the globe!

Chinese New Year in London – Image from Paolo Camera


5th March This is the date of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year – However I wouldn’t advocate this one if you’re after lively parties – Bali sees in the New Year with a day of silence and contemplation. The beaches and streets are emptied (even of tourists) Even the airport is closed. However you might not want to miss out on the Bhuta Yajna Ritual, held the night before. This is when the residents make ‘ogoh-ogoh’, demonic statues made of bamboo and paper. These are parades around the village before they are symbolically burnt as a symbol of self-purification.

Jerry Ogoh-ogoh – Image from mattspong


13th- 15th April – For the Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand the New Year begins in mid-April. The term Water Festival is actually a western one, and each of the counties have their own name and traditions (and even dates) for the festivities. What they do have in common is the practice of pouring water on one another in a cleansing ritual. As the New Year falls at the hottest time in the year, dousing rather than a gentle sprinkling has become the norm, and the celebrations take a boisterous turn.

Where to celebrate it? The Water Festival in 2010 was plagued by tragedy. Bomb explosions in Burma killed nine and at least 349 were killed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia when a stampede broke out. We’ve been told that the Water Festival in Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos is a more subdued affair, but still full of tradition and fun.

Luang Prabang Water Festival – Image from Jaap Groenendijk


Image from readthespirit

28th September – there’s a bit of a lull in New Years over the summer, until Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new Hebrew calendar. This two-day long holiday is accompanied by various traditions, the most obvious of which is wishing everyone a ‘Shana Tova’ or good year. The day is a day of rest, and it is customary to visit the synagogue. Meals traditionally contain apples and honey, which symbolise a sweet new year. You might also notice the sound of the shofar, this is a horn made out of a ram’s horn and the sound is a reminder of receiving the commandments on Mt. Sinai.

Where to celebrate it? Rosh Hashanah is a family orientated celebration, so unless you have a family to take you in your best plan is to head to the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv where shops and businesses are more likely to remain open during the holiday. You can still visit the synagogues to see the traditions.


Image from muslimpage

26th November – Muharram is the first day of the year in the Islamic calendar, which in 2011 will begin on the 26th November. It is a sacred month to Muslims during which fighting is prohibited. The beginning of the New Year has no particular religious significance, instead Muslims commemorate the 10th day of Muharram, which is the anniversary of the death of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Observations differ between the various Muslim faiths, but a common practice is fasting, especially for the first 10 days.

Top image from gnuckx