GREGORIAN NEW YEAR (MOST OF THE WORLD)
January 1st is when most of the world’s governments and business institutions recognize the beginning of the New Year. This is largely due to the Gregorian calendar’s adaptation across Europe and the Americas about 250 years ago, and the subsequent emergence of the Western powers setting the stage for the global marketplace.
HIJRI NEW YEAR – ISLAMIC NEW YEAR (2.4 BILLION)
According to Islam, the first year was 610 AD, when Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. However, the Islamic year is about 11-12 days shorter than a Gregorian year, which means that the Hijri just passed on Nov. 14-15 for the year 1435 AH. Part of the reason that the New Year shifts is due to when the moon is sighted, which means that the first day of the New Year could shift.
ROSH HASHANAH – JEWISH NEW YEAR (14 million)
While there are many countries with a larger population than the entire Jewish faith combined, Judaism is still incredibly well-known and spread out everywhere. For this reason alone, it would be illogical not to mention the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah, the first of the High Holy Days. Their New Year’s Day is typically celebrated in the fall, around the middle of September.
CHINESE NEW YEAR (1.3 billion)
The Chinese New Year has set the standard for many nations in the Far East for millennia. A lunisolar calendar, the beginning of the New Year is never the same, and can vary up to almost a month between January and February. But once that day hits, there are about 15 days of celebration.
SONGKRAN (115 million)
Celebrated April 13-15, the Songkran Festival marks the New Year for not only Thailand, but for many Southeast and Southern Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. While Thailand officially recognizes the Gregorian New Year as the start of the new calendar year, the Songkran Festival marks the traditional Thai New Year, observed as a civic holiday.
NOWRUZ (300 MILLION)
The “New Day” (in Syrian) is celebrated through many Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan, to name a few. Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster, and has been celebrated by the Persian peoples since at least the 2nd Century AD, though some records could indicate it was celebrated about half a millennium earlier. This New Year’s Day shifts yearly, based on the March equinox, marking the day when the hours of night and day are roughly equivalent.
HINDU/INDIAN NEW YEAR (.9-1.2 billion)
India is not completely comprised of people of the Hindu faith, and not all areas of India celebrate the same New Year. Therefore, pinning down a specific new year’s celebration for India and/or Hindu celebrations is problematic-at-best. That said, many of the different regions’ and sects’ celebrations revolve around the beginning of spring – usually around the middle of April.
Culled From: www.toptenz.net