Orthodox New Year's Day 2020

Traditional holiday in several East European countries

Commonly known as Serbian New year, this holiday marks the so-called 'Old New Year' that was celebrated under the Julian Calendar.
Fireworks over St. Sava's Church to mark Orthodox New Year in Belgrade.

When is Orthodox New Year's Day?

How long until Serbian New Year?
This holiday next takes place in 301 Days.
Dates of Orthodox New Year's Day
Year Weekday Date
2020 Tuesday
2019 Monday
2018 Sunday
2017 Saturday
2016 Thursday
Who observes Orthodox New Year's Day
Public holidays in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2019 Bosnia and Herzegovina (regional)
Public holidays in Serbia for 2019 Serbia
1 Day
Known as Old New Year, New Year in the Julian calandar falls on 14 January in the Gregorian Calendar

Orthodox New Year is observed on 14th January in Serbia. Although not an official public holiday, it is still a popular day.

Commonly known as Serbian New year, this holiday marks the so-called 'Old New Year' that was celebrated under the Julian Calendar.

History of Orthodox New Year

On 1 January 45 BC, the Romans adopted a new calendar that had been proposed by Julius Caesar. This 'Julian calendar' was a significant improvement on the older system which only had 355 days a year. However, it still caused an issue as the 365 day years were corrected by a leap year of 366 days every fourth year. This meant the calendar gained three days every four centuries.

To improve the calendar, the Gregorian calendar was introduced in the 16th  century, eventually replacing the Julian calendar in most countries. When the change was made, the calendars had to be adjusted by removing 12 days.

However, the Julian calendar is still used by parts of the Orthodox Church, which is why Orthodox New Year is celebrated on 14th January. This is also why, it might be referred to, somewhat confusingly as Old New Year.

A (slowly) movable feast

As the years progress, so does the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, meaning that sometime after 2100, Orthodox New Year will be on 15th January. And it is not just the Orthodox Church that uses the old date for the festival date. Yennayer on 12th January is the New Year of the North African Berbers, whose calendar is closely based on the Julian calender. Makar Sankranti in India is another Solar based festival whose date is shifting;, this time over thousands of years from its original date of 21st December to 15th January.

Traditions of Orthodox New Year

In Serbia, Orthodox New Year celebrations are similar to the New Year on 1st January.

A popular event is the fireworks display organised by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which takes place in front of the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, as pictured above. And most restaurants, clubs, cafes and hotels are usually fully booked and celebrate New Year with food and live music.

Orthodox New Year also takes place within the twelve days of Orthodox Christmas and a traditional folk name for this day is Little Christmas.

Related holidays

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