Old New Year Date in the current year: January 14, 2024

Old New Year The Old New Year is a traditional holiday observed informally in some countries. It is the first day of the new year in the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the universally adopted Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the Old New Year is celebrated on January 14.

Although the Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in all European countries, the Eastern Orthodox Church, some Oriental Orthodox denominations, and Berbers in North Africa still follow the old Julian calendar. Due to this, some countries celebrate the arrival of the new year twice by both calendars. January 1 is usually a public holiday, whereas January 14 is an unofficial celebration.

In the liturgical calendar, the Old New Year corresponds to the feast day of Saint Basil the Great. In some countries, it is reflected in the holiday’s name or traditions. For example, the Old New Year in Macedonia is also known as Vasilica. And Serbians celebrate the day by baking vasilica, round cornmeal loaves that are served for the Old New Year dinner.

In the former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan), the Old New Year is celebrated by non-religious people as the final day of the holiday season. For devout Christians, the holiday season concludes with Epiphany, which is observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church on January 19.

The Old New Year in Russia and other ex-Soviet states combines secular traditions associated with New Year’s Day and Christmastide customs that stem from pre-Christian rites and rituals. One of such customs is kolyada. Kolyada is basically a hybrid of mummers’ plays and carol singing. It involves young people and children in costumes going from house to house and signing carols. In return, they expect to be given money and sweets.

Although the custom isn’t as widespread as it used to be, it still persists. In cities, it’s mostly children expecting to get some sweets from their relatives and neighbors, much like Halloween trick-or-treaters in the West but without scary costumes.

In general, the Old New Year in Russia is less festive than the actual New Year, partly because it’s not a day off. For most people, it’s a nostalgic family holiday that involves a large meal and celebratory drinking.

In Serbia (including Kosovo), Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (mainly Republika Srpska), and Montenegro, the Old New Year is commonly called the Serbian New Year and sometimes the Orthodox New Year. As part of Twelve Days of Christmas, its traditional folk name is Little Christmas. The Serbian New Year is celebrated with concerts, firework displays, and family gatherings.

In Macedonia, people celebrate the Old New Year by gathering outside their houses in the evening and starting bonfires in the middle of their neighborhoods. They eat, drink, sing, and have fun until late at night. Those who prefer to stay at home and have a meal with their families usually cook pita with a coin inside. Whoever finds the coin in their part of pita is believed to be lucky during the year.

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Unofficial Holidays, Folk Festivals



Old New Year, informal holidays, folk festivals, unofficial holidays, Serbian New Year