Interesting Facts About The Orthodox New Year: January 14 In The Gregorian Calendar

The Orthodox New Year or the Old New Year is an informal traditional holiday, celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Old New Year falls on January 14 in the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar pre-dates the Gregorian calendar. The same day is celebrated in India as the sun ends its southward journey and starts moving northward: Makar Sankranti.
This traditional dating of the New Year is sometimes colloquially called “Orthodox” because it harks back to a time when governments in Russia and Eastern Europe used the Julian Calendar, which is still used by some jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church’s liturgical year actually begins in September.
Many Orthodox Christians who observe the New Year’s Day date from the Julian calendar may spend the day reflecting on the previous year and think about meaningful resolutions for the New Year. Many people celebrate the day with family or friends to welcome the New Year. Activities may include fireworks, large meals and music entertainment.
Some churches hold Orthodox New Year events such as parties or dinners. Those who attend these events may pray for the New Year and toast their drinks. Some churches host gala dinners to raise funds for charitable causes or church building restorations.
Here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t about The Orthodox New Year:
1. Russian Orthodox churches in the United States hold church services often with festive dinner and dancing to celebrate the holiday. The traditional dishes include meat dumplings, beet salad, pickled mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers along with vodka.
2. The Orthodox New Year is not a federal public holiday but it may be a regional or non-official holiday limited to regional areas or religious groups in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Russia, and the Ukraine. The Orthodox New Year is observed among Orthodox Christians in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
3. The Orthodox New Year does not remain static in the Gregorian calendar because there are shifts between the Julian and Gregorian calendars over time. For example, the Old New Year falls on January 14 between 1901 and 2100 but it will move again in time if the Julian calendar is still used.
4. The Orthodox New Year has been mentioned or symbolized in various Eastern European art, including Russian art and literary works. For example, a comedy drama called The Old New Year, written by playwright Mikhail Roshchin in 1973, was featured in theatres before it became a screenplay for television film.
5. The holiday in Macedonia is known as Old New Year or as Vasilica. Late on January 14, people gather outside their houses, in the center of their neighborhoods where they start a huge bonfire, and drink and eat together. They sing the traditional Macedonian music. For those who stay at home, it is tradition to eat homemade pita with a coin inside. Whoever finds the coin in his part is said to have luck during the year.
Macedonians around the world also celebrate the holiday, especially in Australia, Canada and United States where the Macedonian Orthodox Church has adherents.
6. The tradition of the Old New Year has been kept in Palestine, Armenia, Jordan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (mostly in Republika Srpska), Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine (Malanka), Switzerland (as alter Silvester)and Wales (as Hen Galan). In Scotland, the Old New Year has traditionally been held on 12 January.

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