Orthodox New Year

Orthodox New Year is a traditional holiday that celebrates the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this holiday falls on January 14th every year. It is observed by Orthodox Christians in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., many of the traditions for celebrating this holiday have been borrowed from other parts of the world, especially traditions that originated in Eastern Europe. This holiday is known by a variety of different names around the world, but one of the most common ones is Old New Year.

The Background of Orthodox New Year

Even though Orthodox New Year falls on January 14th in the Gregorian calendar, it corresponds to January 1st in the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was first proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. as a way to reform the Roman calendar. This calendar was designed by Greek astronomers and mathematicians such as Sosigenes, and by Caesar’s official edict, it went into effect in 45 B.C.

The Julian calendar was used for more than 1,600 years, but then it became clear that it had a minor flaw. It contained 365.25 days. Although this wasn’t a significant issue from one year to the next, over the centuries, it had a cumulative effect that pushed the major holidays away from their intended seasons. So Pope Gregory XIII introduced a minor change to the calendar, and this adjustment stopped the drift of the calendar as it pertained to the equinoxes. This is why New Year’s Day on the Julian calendar falls on January 14th in the Gregorian calendar.

Orthodox New Year will remain on January 14th until 2100, but the inevitable drift of the calendar will change it to January 15th—if the calendar is still in use by Orthodox churches after that year.

Observing Orthodox New Year

Although New Year’s celebrations in most countries occur on January 1st in the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox or Old New Year is still celebrated by Orthodox churches in the U.S. and around the world. It is observed in the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and other churches around the world.

Orthodox New Year celebrations often include traditional buffets and dancing. People also attend liturgies, blessings, and other religious ceremonies on this day. Communal meals are also common on this day. In the U.S., Orthodox New Year is not a public holiday.

Where is it celebrated?
Russia (Observance)Canada (Orthodox)Australia (Orthodox) Show all
When is it?
This year (2024)
January 14 Sunday
Next year (2025)
January 14 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
January 14 Saturday