Lunar New Year

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Lunar New Year refers to the first day of a secular, sacred or other year whose months are coordinated the cycles of the moon. The whole year may account to a purely lunar calendar, which is not coordinated to a solar calendar (and, thus, may progress or retrogress through the solar year by comparison to it, depending on whether the lunar calendar has more or fewer than 13 months); or the year may account to a lunisolar calendar, whose months coordinate to the cycles of the moon but whose length is periodically adjusted to keep it relatively in sync with the solar year - typically by adding an intercalary month, when needed.

The following East and Central Asian Lunar New Year celebrations are, or were historically, based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar: (occurring in late January or February)

These Southeast and South Asian Lunar New Year celebrations (indic- influenced) fall on other days:

  • Burmese New Year (Thingyan): Lunisolar new year falls in April; similar to Cambodian, Lao, Sri Lankan and Thai new years
  • Cambodian New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey), similar to Burmese, Lao, Sri Lankan and Thai
  • Lao New Year, similar to Burmese, Cambodian, Sri Lankan and Thai
  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year, similar to Burmese, Cambodian, Lao, and Thai
  • Thai New Year (Songkran), similar to Burmese, Cambodian, Lao and Sri Lankan
  • Ugadi and Gudi Padwa, Lunisolar New Year's Day for the Deccan people of India
  • Meitei Cheiraoba, Lunisolar New year's Day for the people of Manipur state of India

These Lunar New Year celebrations that originated in West/Southwest Asia fall on other days:

  • Islamic New Year or Muslim New Year follows a purely lunar calendar of 12 months that retrogresses through the Gregorian and Julian calendar years. The day of Muslim New Year may thus fall in any season on the calendar.
  • In Jewish (Rabbinical and Karaite) and Samaritan religious and secular traditions, there are several holy days and festivals that are lunar new year observances. Each tradition uses a slightly different version of the Hebrew Calendar but they are all lunisolar, so the days always fall in the same season.
    • Tu Bishvat is the New Year for Trees in rabbinical Jewish tradition but is not part of the Karaite or Samaritan calendars. It is a late winter/very early spring holiday.
    • Passover in Karaite and Samaritan traditions is the culmination of the New Year celebrations that begin on 1 Abib (aka 1 Nisan); while for rabbinical Jews, 1 Nisan is the New Year for kings and festivals and Passover (15 days later) generally is no longer associated with new year celebrations, except as being the first festival of the sacred or Biblical year. Passover is a mid- to late spring festival in rabbinical and Karaite traditions (March-April), and a late spring to very early summer holiday in Samaritan tradition (April-May).
    • Rosh Hashanah LaBehema, the first day of the month of Elul, is the New Year for Animal Tithes in rabbinical Judaism; while in Samaritan tradition, this is the date at which the number of the year advances. This is a very late summer/early autumn holiday.
    • Secular Jewish New Year in rabbinical Jewish tradition, begins at the new moon the coincides with the first day of the month of Tishri. The number of the year changes on 1 Tishri in rabbinical Jewish tradition. The Samaritan year changes number a month earlier, on the first day of Elul; and the number of the year in Karaite tradition happens on the first day of Abib (Nisan), 15 days before Passover. Karaite Jews and Samaritans do observe Rosh Hashanah but as the holiday Yom Teruah (meaning "Day of Noise," whereas Rosh Hashanah means "Head of the Year"). It is an autumn holy day.


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