Not Everyone Celebrates New Year on 1 January....

The streamers have long since been cleared away, the party food eaten, and we're already halfway through the first month of the year (eeek!). And while 1 January is the accepted start of the New Year in many parts of the world, it's not the only we thought we'd have a quick peek at some other New Year dates we have marked on the calendar for 2020.

The next celebration we have marked is the Chinese New Year, which, in 2020, falls on Saturday 25 January. The festival lasts until the 8th of February, or about 2 weeks, and this year is the Year of the Rat, acording to the Chinese zodiac.

The Year of the Rat is thought to mark a major new beginning, and in 2020, the rat is associated with the element of metal. ​Rats are thought to be clever, almost cunning, in the lexicon; quick thinking, and successful, but happy to live a quiet life.

So the story goes, when all the animals were gathered in the early days of the world, the Jade Emperor held a party. He said that the animal that would be first amongst them would be the one who arrived at the party first. The clever little rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride: on arrival at the party, the rat jumped down, and became the first animal at the party.

It's not only the Chinese New Year that is celebrated on a date that differs from 1 January, though – the Korean New Year falls on the first day of the Korean lunar calendar, and usually lasts for three days. Traditions include family visits, paying respects to the ancestors, and children receiving gifts of money from their elders. It usually takes place in January or February, on the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Meanwhile, in India, New Year varies between states. It is mainly celebrated on 14 April or 15 April, although a few southern states celebrate it on 6 April. Sri Lanka also celebrates the Sinhalese New Year on 14 April, marking the end of the harvest, while in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation countries, the date of the New Year varies. The sighting of the new moon is the sign to usher in the start of the month of Muharram, and the Islamic New Year. In 2020, the date of the Islamic New Year will be 20 August 2020.

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to seeing kites and lions dance in the street, as it were, to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year, not to mention enjoying some delicious traditional Chinese dishes. (Okay, you've caught us out - Chinese food is one of the cuisines we regularly enjoy in this household...) We might also just have to read one of our favourite modern takes on the Chinese New Year too, as young Li finds out about family traditions in Li's Chinese New Year, one of our lovely dual language books. 

Something that just about every New Year festival has in common, though, is welcoming in family and friends, and sharing a feast. Some things really are universal!