Old New Year

Last updated
Old New Year
Also calledOrthodox New Year
Armenian Հին Նոր տարի
Belarusian Стары Новы год
Bulgarian Стара Нова година
Georgian ძველით ახალი წელი
Greek Παλαιό νέο έτος
Macedonian Стара Нова година
Romanian Anul Nou pe stil vechi
Russian Старый Новый год
Serbian Српска Нова година
Srpska Nova godina
Ukrainian Старий Новий рік
Montenegrin Pravoslavna Nova godiana
Observed byUsers of the Julian calendar
SignificanceThe first day of the Julian year
DateJanuary 11 (1583–1700)
January 12 (1701–1800)
January 13 (1801–1900)
January 14 (1901–2100)
January 15 (2101–2200)
Related to New Year's Day (Gregorian calendar)

The Old New Year or the Orthodox 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.


This traditional dating of the New Year is sometimes commonly 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 Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church's liturgical year actually begins in September.

In Russia

Although the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to use the Julian calendar. The New Year became a holiday that is celebrated by both calendars.

As in most countries which use the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Day in Russia is a public holiday celebrated on January 1. On that day, joyous entertainment, fireworks, elaborate and often large meals and other festivities are common. The holiday is interesting as it combines secular traditions of bringing in the New Year with the Christian Orthodox Christmastide customs, such as Rozdestvo .

The New Year by the Julian calendar is still informally observed, and the tradition of celebrating the coming of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed: January 1 (New New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year).

Usually not as festive as the New New Year, for many this is a nostalgic family holiday ending the New Year holiday cycle (which includes Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7) with traditional large meals, singing and celebratory drinking. [1] [ unreliable source? ]

In Serbia

The Old New Year in Serbia and among Serbs is commonly called the Serbian New Year (Српска Нова година / Srpska Nova godina), [2] and sometimes the Orthodox New Year (Православна Нова година / Pravoslavna Nova godina) and rarely Julian New Year (Јулијанска Нова година / Julijanska Nova godina).

The Serbian Orthodox Church, with traditional adherence in Serbia (including Kosovo), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia, celebrates its feasts and holidays according to the Julian calendar. [2]

Serbs celebrates Serbian New Year in a similar way as the New Year on January 1. This time, usually one concert is organized in front of either City Hall or the National Parliament (in Belgrade), while fireworks are prepared by the Serbian Orthodox Church and fired from the Church of Saint Sava, where people also gather. Other cities also organize such celebrations. Restaurants, clubs, cafes, and hotels are usually fully booked and organize New Year's celebrations with food and live music. [2]

A traditional folk name for this holiday as part of Twelve Days of Christmas is Little Christmas (Мали Божић / Mali Božić). Some families continue with the procedures of Serbian Christmas traditions.

In North Macedonia

The holiday in North Macedonia is known as Old New Year (Macedonian : Стара Нова година, romanized:Stara Nova godina) or as Vasilica (Василица, "St. Basil" [n. 1] ). Late on January 13, people gather outside their houses, in the center of their neighborhoods where they start a huge bonfire and drink and eat together. Traditional Macedonian music is sung. For those who stay at home, it is the tradition to eat home-made pita with a coin inside. Whoever finds the coin in their part is said to have luck during the year. [3]

Macedonians around the world also celebrate the holiday, especially in Australia, Canada, and the United States where Macedonian Orthodox Church has adherents.

Other countries

The tradition of the Old New Year has been kept in Palestine, Jordan, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina (mainly among Serbs), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Moldova, Ukraine (Malanka), Wales (as Hen Galan) [4] and Switzerland (as alter Silvester). [5] In Scotland, the Old New Year has traditionally been held on 12 January. In the first half of the 20th century, large segments of the Scottish Gaelic community still observed the feast [6] and today, it is still marked in South Uist and Eriskay as Oidhche Challaig and as Oidhche Challainn in Glenfinnan. Also in Scotland, the coastal town of Burghead in Morayshire celebrates the eve of the Old New Year with "The Burning o' the Clavie". Old New Year is the 12th of January in this district as well.

The Berbers of North Africa (from Morocco to Libya) traditionally celebrate the New Year on the "Berber calendar", which is very close to the Julian calendar. Because of certain calendar errors, the "Berber New Year" is celebrated in some areas on the 12th, rather than 14th, of January. [7] [ better source needed ]

The same day is celebrated in Tamil-speaking lands as Thai Pongal, when the sun ends its southward journey and starts moving northward.

In art

The Old New Year tradition has received mention in Russian art; the playwright Mikhail Roshchin wrote a comedy-drama called The Old New Year in 1973, [8] which was staged for many years. He also made it into a screenplay for a 1980 television film which featured music by Sergey Nikitin and poetry lyrics by Boris Pasternak. The film was released by Mosfilm studios. [9]

See also


  1. St. Basil (Macedonian : Св. Василиј, romanized:Sv. Vasilij)

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The adoption of the Gregorian Calendar was an event in the modern history of most cultures and societies, marking a change from their traditional dating system to the modern dating system, the Gregorian calendar, that is widely used around the world today. Some states adopted the new calendar from 1582, some did not do so before the early twentieth century, and others did so at various dates between; however a number continue to use a different civil calendar. For many the new style calendar is only used for civil purposes and the old style calendar remains used in religious contexts. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world's most widely used civil calendar. During – and for some time after – the change between systems, it has been common to use the terms Old Style and New Style when giving dates, to indicate which calendar was used to reckon them.


  1. Talmazan, Yuliya_ (30 December 2009). "Top Ten Traditions No Winter Holiday Season in Russia Goes Without". YT Files. Archived from the original on 19 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 "What is 'Serbian New Year'?". Balkan Insight. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  3. "당곡역 지역주택조합 신보라매 두산위브".
  4. "Hen Galan: Welsh village celebrates New Year on 13 January". BBC News. 2019-01-13. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  5. "Winter Weirdness in the Swiss "Silvesterchläusen" Festival". The Vale Magazine. 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  6. The Last Pibroch, Jaunty Jock and the Ayrshire Idylls by Neil Munro, stated in the glossary; http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2012/jan/09/gaelic-new-year-celebrations
  7. Yannayer, le 12 ou le 14 janvier?, LA DÉPÊCHE DE KABYLIE, 2006-01-15
  8. Smith, Lydia (13 January 2015). "Orthodox New Year 2015: How Christian communities around the world celebrate 'Old New Year'". International Business Times. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  9. "Old New Year - An untranslatable play on words, and favorite film festival". Wild Tips. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2017.