New year celebration

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Under New Year is meant celebrations and customs at the beginning of the new year, on New Year's Day . These are celebrated in different ways depending on the cultural context and religion.

Calendar invoice

The date of the New Year festival - which is often celebrated for several days - is based on the respective calendar calculation : either according to the course of the sun (e.g. Gregorian calendar ) or, as in East Asia, according to the lunisolar year . Here the traditional festival always falls on a new moon , so that it can vary by up to 1 month in relation to the western calendar (see Lunar New Year ). In Islam, a pure lunar calendar is used, so that the New Year (and other festivals) shift backwards by about 11 days each year.

In many countries the date of the New Year differs from the western one, especially if the traditional, mostly religious calendar calculation includes the so-called lunar year in addition to the course of the sun .

Therefore, the New Year festival is celebrated on very different dates.

Western Christian culture

New year customs

Lucky charm: lucky pig and 1 cent coin (New Year 2016)

In German-speaking countries, the celebrations usually take place on the night of the New Year and are known as New Year's Eve celebrations . The turn of the year includes good luck and health wishes ( New Year's wishes ) for the new year and often a New Year's drink . For example, one often wishes "a Happy New Year". Saying good luck and health wishes is still common a few days after the New Year.

Large cultural and symphony orchestras often hold a New Year's concert on New Year's Eve, such as the New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic .

For many people, the so-called lucky charms play an important role, such as lucky pigs and chimney sweeps, four-leaf clover , etc. The wrapping paper is also printed with these symbols. As sweets are Berlin (pancakes) or New Year donuts served.

In Italy it is customary to wear red underwear at the turn of the year, at the French celebration Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre champagne and kissing under the mistletoe in the middle of the night are part of it and the Scottish Hogmanay cultivates the tradition of "first-footing" you step across the threshold of neighbors and friends with a glass of whiskey, a piece of coal and other defined souvenirs. Singing the traditional Auld Lang Syne is widespread in the Anglo-Saxon language .

A broad overview, especially of the older New Year's customs in German-speaking Switzerland, can be found in the Swiss Idioticon .

January 1st in the Christian Church

Special holidays

As early as 700 AD it was customary in Rome to celebrate January 1st as the feast of Mary : Natale sanctae Mariae . With the adoption of the Byzantine festivals Annunciation of the Lord on March 25th and Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, the festival lost its importance, so that the octave day of Christmas as the feast of the circumcision of the Lord from the Frankish-German calendars also in the Calendar of the urban Roman liturgy was included. The calendar reform of 1969 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council reintroduced the historical Feast of Mary as the solemn feast of Mary , the Mother of God , while January 3rd is dedicated as a day of remembrance to the naming of Jesus (previously: Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus ). In contemporary calendars the following entries can be found on January 1st: “New Year, the octave day of Christmas, naming of the Lord, Solemnity of the Blessed Mother Mary.” Furthermore, Pope Paul VI. celebrates New Year's Day 1967 as World Day of Peace .

Martin Luther started the year of the Reformation Church on December 25th and only wanted January 1st to be celebrated as the “day of the circumcision and naming of the Lord”. After 1550, other reformers ( Philipp Melanchthon , Johannes Brenz ) made it the Christian New Year: retrospect and outlook gave the day in the Evangelical Church the character of a service for thanksgiving and petition: the New Year began expressly in Jesus' name (EG 58-65 ). The church celebration on the previous "Old Year's Eve" had a similar focus, but later often turned into a sociable evening.

Traditional New Year sermons

Since the 15th century, in addition to the sermons about the circumcision festival and about the naming of Jesus, New Year sermons have also been handed down in Germany, in which the clergy made symbolic "New Year gifts" to the community. Various objects of everyday life, plants, precious stones or animals were “worshiped” by the various classes (for example married couples, virgins, authorities and old people) and displayed according to their symbolic properties. The model for this was the custom of exchanging good wishes or small gifts with neighbors at New Year.

"A good blessed ior". Forerunner of the New Year card 1466

Such a custom was already known from Roman antiquity, and the gifts were therefore called strenae in Latin . Although Luther had expressly rejected the form of “donation sermons” for the New Year - probably because the interpretations were often deliberately aimed at amusing the audience - Lutheran pastors also adopted this custom from the end of the 16th century. The form of the New Year sermons with the listing of various social classes then continued to have an effect in the 17th century in leaflets with New Year poems that could be given away as a New Year greeting.

During the first decades of the 20th century, hardly any reference to the turn of the year was made in church services. The church year began with the first Sunday in Advent , i.e. around the change of month between November and December.

New year songs

In the 16th century, numerous New Year's songs were created - mainly through the musical impetus of many Protestant Christians. Some were also created in the Baroque era and its distinctive church music , among others by Bach and his sons . Some of these songs from that time are still sung today, e.g. B. "The old has passed, the new has begun ..." . Several of these songs belong to the repertoire of today's carol singers .

The meaning of the turn of the year

Although the different and sometimes flexible dates were already perceived as annoying in ancient times , this did not affect the appreciation of the New Year celebrations. Despite the even different length of the year, every transition from an old to a new period of time retained its symbolism , depending on the underlying worldview : for integration into the cosmos and its assumed eternity , as a symbol of the returning sun , for fertility and good harvests , for death and the Sequence of generations , for the longing for future happiness , for security in God, for religious new creation or periodic rebirth , and in general for the reliability of the seasons and their peculiarities.

In earlier times in Europe the turn of the year was not celebrated at the beginning of January, but on Epiphany or April 1st, i.e. shortly after the start of spring . Perhaps this is where the April Fool's joke originated. Those who did not want to participate in the calendar reform and celebrate the old New Year were reminded of the new date with ironic gifts and ridicule .

Seasonal rhythm

All living beings have a certain need for a temporal structure , which in humans occurs when they reflect on the near past and future:

  • The cycle of the seasons is so unmistakable in almost all geographical regions - whether in the alternation of wet and dry seasons or storms, whether in four seasons of the temperate zones, or as an appearance of polar night and day - that the working year has always been influenced by it .
  • Structure of time: on the one hand, it is given by the growing season , on the other hand, it corresponds to a basic human need , who needs a balance between stability (duration) and change for mental health . The winter rites also include the experience of the solstice , the physical need for winter rest and, earlier, the release of the harvest , the use of which was taboo among many so-called " primitive peoples " .

Contemplation and traditions of the community

We become more aware of the seasonal cycles in times of cold and longer nights (see below, astronomical conditions) or reduced activity. This can affect the individual as well as society :

Religious Aspects

At all turning points in life, in addition to material and social aspects, religion and worldview are also important. When the season changes - depending on the culture , climate and religious or national history - so many aspects play a role that a complete list hardly seems possible. Some aspects that make sense in western culture are:

  • Traditional rites in dealing with the harvest and giving thanks to higher beings , various harvest festivals and religious dances and games.
  • General tendency to prayer , reflection or meditation in times of silence, rural calm or mainly domestic work, or under the starry sky during the much longer nights .
  • More time and openness for common leisure time in groups, in a couple and in the family , more opportunity for mutual stimulation, etc., which - depending on the image of God - has a strong religious connection.

Common elements in different cultures

Even if the New Year celebrations have different characteristics in each region, there are a number of common elements. Some of them have been postponed to December 31 in the local tradition.

The majority of these customs have a religious reference and were accordingly integrated into priestly acts or church celebrations, but also into occult practices and incantations. Other widespread traditions concern specific aspects of the past or the future, e.g. B. the initiation of young people, or the burning of symbolic objects.

New Year celebrations and customs in other cultures and religions


Different New Year customs

Tibetan dancer at the New Year celebrations (1938)

In the southern hemisphere , New Year falls after the summer solstice , so it is a midsummer festival. While Christmas is also connected there as a “ winter ” festival with - albeit artificial - snow , New Year is not primarily associated with winter.

The Iranian peoples and the Baha'i have been celebrating Nouruz since the Persian Empire at the beginning of spring (March 20). Accordingly, the traditions differed significantly from ours. The hour of the beginning of the year was announced with large, traditional wind instruments . The table of the feast makes spring and the hope for a good year visible with 7 symbols , all of which begin with the letter Sin : Senjed (whitebeam), Samanu (sweet pastries), Sekeh ( coin ), Sabzeh (green wheat shoots ), Siib or Sif ( apple ), Serkeh (vinegar) and Sir ( garlic ). They mean happiness, health, fertility and well-being. In Islamic times these “Haft-Sin” (“Seven S”) were still colored eggs , the spice Somagh, incense (Sipand) and a Koran on the tablecloth. Persian Zoroastrians take the Awesta, Christians take the Bible .

The old Persian New Year celebration lasted not only 3–4 days (as, for example, with the Jews or in Japan), but a full 13 days. On the last day you drove out of the city into the countryside and took one of the 7 symbols with you: the wheat grass planted at the beginning of the festival . It was thrown into the nearest river - as a symbol that all evil spirits were now driven from the house.

Even Japan's tradition knows seven lucky charms ( Shichi Fukujin ): special deities after the myths on New Year's on their ship Takarabune enter the harbor. The ship brings five treasures: the inexhaustible purse , a hat that makes you invisible , the lucky cloak, the wooden hammer of wealth and the ghost-hunting rat . A painted picture of them is a popular motif that many Japanese put under their pillows on New Year's Day . In the days after the New Year it is customary to go to the Shrines of the Seven and ask for a good year.

The Chinese New Year festival traditionally lasts up to 15 days and ends with the Lantern Festival . The Tibetan New Year festival is called Losar and begins with the first month of spring and is celebrated with family visits and religious ceremonies.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ New Year's Eve in France: Vocabulary and Traditions of 'La Saint-Sylvestre' in France., September 15, 2017, accessed November 16, 2017 .
  2. Nuw-Jâr., 2017, accessed on November 16, 2017 . Bërchtelens day., 2017, accessed on November 16, 2017 .
  3. Psychologist reveals six tricks: This is how it works with good intentions. , January 1, 2016, accessed November 16, 2017 .
  4. Lantern Festival. Radio China International, accessed October 11, 2020.
  5. The Tibetan New Year. Radio China International, accessed October 11, 2020.