Talk about New Year
In the olden days, the New Year was celebrated at the
beginning of Spring when plants are growing and the world is refreshed
from the winter. It was Julius Caesar, King of the Roman Empire, who
made the calendar revision to suit his empire. The calendar
which Julius Caesar adopted in the year 46 B.C. consisted of a
solar year of twelve months and of 365 days with an extra day every
fourth year. Julius Caesar wanted to start the year on the Spring
Equinox or the Winter Solstice, but yielded to the Roman Senate, which
traditionally took office on January 1st, the start of the Roman civil
calendar year, to adopt January 1st as the start of the year.
Subsequently the Julian Calendar became widespread as a result of its
use throughout the Roman Empire and later by various Christian
churches, which inherited many of the institutions of the Roman world.
Although the Julian calendar had been there for over a
millennium and a half, a very basic controversy had not been sorted
out. The average length of a year in the Julian Calendar is 365.25
days (one additional day being added every four years). This is
significantly different from the "real" length of the solar
year. This error accumulates so that after about 131 years the
calendar is out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one day.
Thus as the centuries passed the Julian Calendar became increasingly
inaccurate with respect to the seasons. This was especially troubling
to the Roman Catholic Church because it affected the determination of
the date of Easter, which, by the 16th Century, was well on the way to
slipping into Summer.
Pope Paul III recruited several astronomers,
principally the Jesuit Christopher Clavius (1537-1612), to come up
with a solution. When Pope Gregory XIII was elected he found various
proposals for calendar reform before him, and decided in favor of that
of Clavius. On 1582-02-24 he issued a papal bull, Inter Gravissimas,
establishing what is now called the Gregorian Calendar reform. Aside
from adjusting the dates between the old and new calendar, the leap
year rule is defined as a year divisible by 4 is a leap year
unless it is divisible by 100 but not by 400 (in which case it is not
a leap year). Thus the years 1600 and 2000 are leap years, but 1700,
1800, 1900 and 2100 are not.
The Gregorian Calendar is the calendar which is
currently in use in all Western and Westernized countries, and
Dionysius Exiguus's system of numbering years A.D.(related to the
birth of Jesus) has endured to the present time.
Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day
of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th
day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is
celebrated at night with lantern displays, lantern puzzles and
children carrying lanterns in a parade. During the 15-day festival,
fireworks are often displayed.
The Chinese Calendar is based on a combination of lunar
and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to
match with the solar calendar, an extra month once every few years
(seven years out of a
19-yearcycle) is inserted in a similar concept as adding an extra day on leap
year. This is why the Chinese New Year falls on a different date in solar
calendar each year.
Traditionally, Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as
a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was
traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven
and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The presence of
the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for
them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with
the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The
communal feast is called "surrounding the kitchen stove" or weilu.
It symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations.
Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were
responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family
and for protecting the family's future. On the New Year's Day, greetings of
Happy New Year are extended from young to old and 'Honbao' (lucky money) are
given from old (generation) to young (generation). Kids with many relatives
can get loaded handsomely in Chinese New Year.
Jewish New Year occurs in September or October in solar calendar. Rosh
Hashanah, which literally means the head of the year, commemorates the
anniversary of the creation of the world. It is celebrated on the first and
second days of the 7th Hebrew month, Tishri (10th
day Yom Kippur). Rosh Hashanah, is often referred to as
the beginning of the Jewish New Year when all living things are judged.
However, the Hebrew month of Nisan, in which Passover is celebrated, is the
first month of the Jewish calendar.
Rosh Hashanah (Tishri month) is actually only one of
four symbolic Jewish new year celebrations. The other three are Nisan:
the Hebrew month of Passover marks the birth of the Jews as a free nation. It
was also the symbolic new year day for kings; Elul: The
Hebrew month preceding Rosh Hashanah was the symbolic new year for tithing
animals, an ancient form of giving tzedakah, or charity; Shevat:
The Hebrew month of the holiday, Tu Bishvat, was the symbolic new year
Rosh Hashanah is unique because it is both serious and
festive. It is a time of spiritual renewal through prayer and deep personal
reflection. It is also a time for families and friends to get together, make
amends, ask each other's forgiveness and strive to make the next year better.
Religiously, it is the recognition of God as king and judge over all living
things. It is during Elul Jews everywhere wish each other Shanah Tovah,
a good year; or Le-shanah tovah tikatevu, may you be inscribed for a
good year. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary to add Le-Shanah
tovah tikkateivu ve-tehateimu, may you be inscribed and sealed for
a good year. New Year greeting cards are used to reconnect with relatives and
friends and let them know the past year's accomplishments and significant