Today is...

20 February

Lunar New Year holiday continues in:

  • China
  • Macau
  • Taiwan

Vietnam continues to celebrate Tết.

Lunar New Year is an important traditional holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Lunar/Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar.

The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

Vietnam continues to celebrate Tết Nguyen Dan.  Tết or Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. Tết celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese variation of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, which usually has the date falling between the months of January or February.

Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing.  Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. These food includes bánh chưng, bánh dày, dried young bamboo soup (canh măng), giò and sticky rice. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the new year, ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.

Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).

Past Days...

19 February

Lunar New Year holiday continued in:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Taiwan

Vietnam continued to celebrate Tết.

India (state of Maharashtra) celebrated Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti.

Malaysia (state of Johor Bahru) had a state bank holiday.

Nepal celebrated Prajatantra Diwas, Democracy day of Nepal.

18 February

Lunar New Year holiday continued in:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Taiwan

Vietnam continued to celebrate Tết.

17 February

Lunar New Year holiday continued in:

  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

Vietnam continued to celebrate Tết.

16 February

North Korea celebrated Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong Il’s Birthday).

Lunar New Year/Spring Festival was celebrated in the following countries:

  • Bhutan (Dangpa Losar)
  • Brunei (Chinese New Year)
  • China (Spring Festival - Chinese New Year)
  • Hong Kong (Lunar New Year)
  • Indonesia (Tahun Baru Imlek)
  • Macau (Novo Ano Lunar)
  • Malaysia (Chinese New Year)
  • Mongolia (Tsagaan Sar)
  • Nepal (Gyalpyo/Gyallo Lhosar and Sonam Lhosar)
  • North Korea (Seollal)
  • Philippines (Chinese Lunar New Year)
  • Singapore (Chinese New Year)
  • South Korea (Seol-nal)
  • Taiwan (Chinese New Year)
  • Thailand (Chinese New Year)

Vietnam celebrated Tết.

15 February

China, Macau and Taiwan celebrated Chinese New Year’s Eve (Spring Festival).

Mongolia had a holiday for Bituun (Lunar New Year’s Eve).

South Korea had a holiday for Seol-nal.

Vietnam celebrated Tết Eve.

14 February

Timor Leste had a public sector holiday for Ash Wednesday.

India (states of Chandigarh, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh) celebrated Maha Shivaratri.

Vietnam had a holiday for Tết.

13 February

Maha Shivaratri was celebrated in:

  • India (states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar,  Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajastan, Telangana)
  • Nepal (Maaha Shivaratri)
  • Sri Lanka (Mahasivarathri Day)

It is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva.

12 February

Japan had a holiday for Foundation Day.

Myanmar celebrated Union Day.

11 February

Japan celebrated Foundation Day.  This national holiday was established in 1966 (and first held in 1967) as a day to reflect on the establishment of the nation and to nurture a love for the country. From 1872 to 1948, February 11 was known as Kigen-setsu (紀元節?), a holiday commemorating the day on which—according to the Nihon Shoki—Emperor Jimmu is said to have acceded the throne in 660 BCE.

5 February

Pakistan celebrated Kashmir Solidarity Day which is a national holiday also observed by Kashmiri nationalists on 5 February each year.  It is in observance of Pakistan’s support and unity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir, their ongoing freedom struggle, and to pay homage to Kashmiri martyrs who lost their lives fighting for Kashmir’s freedom. Solidarity rallies are held in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and by Kashmiri diaspora in United Kingdom. The day often marks unrest in Indian controlled Kashmir.   The major protests and incidents include 2010 Kashmir unrest, Doodhipora killing, 2006, 2009 Shopian rape and murder case and the Bomai Incident.  Kashmir Day was first proposed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan in 1990.

Sri Lanka had a holiday for National Day.

4 February

Sri Lanka celebrated National Day (Independence Day).

1 February

Malaysia (Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya) celebrated Federal Territories Day.  The date marks the anniversary of formation of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory in 1974, ceded by the state of Selangor to the federal government of Malaysia.

31 January

Cambodia celebrated Meaka Bochea Day. This national holiday was established to commemorate the spontaneous gathering of monks to listen to the Buddha's preaching.

India (states of Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachel Pradesh, MP and Punjab) celebrated Guru Ravidas Jayanti.

The states of Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Putrajaya, Penang, Perak and Selangor in Malaysia celebrated Thaipusam.  Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai.

Sri Lanka celebrated Navam Full Moon Poya Day - the Buddha proclaims for the first time a code of fundamental ethical precepts for the monks.

30 January

Nepal celebrated Shahid Diwas, Martyr's day to remember the first four martyrs of Nepal.

26 January

Australia celebrated Australia Day. Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community.

The meaning and significance of Australia Day has evolved over time. Unofficially, or historically, the date has also been variously named "Anniversary Day", "Foundation Day", and "ANA Day".26 January 1788 marked the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland). Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. On New Year's Day 1901, the British colonies of Australia formed a Federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. A national day of unity and celebration was looked for. It was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories had adopted use of the term "Australia Day" to mark the date, and not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked by a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.

In contemporary Australia, the holiday is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honours list and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. It is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, unless it falls on a weekend in which case the following Monday becomes a public holiday instead. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

Some Indigenous Australian events are now included. However, since at least 1938 Australia Day has also been marked by some Indigenous Australians protesting what they see as the invasion of their land by Europeans, and its celebration as a national holiday. They prefer to call it "Invasion Day" or "Survival Day" and advocate that, alternatively, the date should be changed.

India celebrated Republic Day. Republic Day honors the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.  The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by the British Regime.

25 January

India (state of Himachal Pradesh) observed Statehood Day.

23 January

India (states of Orissa and West Bengal) had a holiday for Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Jayanti.

22 January

India (states of Bihar, Orissa, Haryana, West Bengal, and Punjab) celebrated Vasant Panchami.  Sometimes referred to as Saraswati Puja, Shree Panchami, or the Basant Festival of Kites is a Sikh and Hindu festival held on the fifth day of Magha marking the start of spring and the Holi season. On this day Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, the goddess of knowledge, music, art and culture.  For Sikhs, in the Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, on the day of Vasant Panchmi, musicians start the music by singing Basant Raga. This practice continues up until the first day of Vaisakh when Basant Rag is no longer used.  A fair normally held at the famous Sikh shrine of Guru-ka-Lahore in Bilaspur district to mark the occasion of the marriage of Guru Gobind Singh Ji on Vasant Panchami.

Nepal (schools only) had a holiday for Saraswoti Puja.

21 January

Malaysia (Sate of Kedah) had a holiday for their State Ruler’s Birthday.

18 January

Nepal celebrated Sonam Lhosar, one out of the four Lhosars celebrated specially by the Tamang community.

17 January

Bhutan celebrated The Traditional Day of Offering.  The main purpose behind this holiday is to give thanks to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan. It also focuses on charity, particularly feeding others, and recreation. The day is celebrated with feasting and traditional sports, including archery, digor, and khuru (darts). This holiday may have originally begun as a Bhutanese new year celebration.

16 January

India (states of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu) celebrated Uzhavar Thirunal - Farmers' Day.

India (state of Andhra Pradesh) celebrated Kanuma Panduga/Tusu Puja.

15 January

India (states of Arunachal Pradesh and Pondicherry) celebrated Pongal.  In other states they celebrated Makar Sankranti (Karnataka and Telangana) and in the states of Pondicherry, and Tamil Nadu Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated.

Sri Lanka had a special bank holiday for Tamil Thai Pongal.

Nepal celebrated Maghi Parba/Maghe Sankranti.

14 January

India (state of Tamil Nadu) celebrated Pongal. In the state of Gujurat they celebrated Makar Sankranti.  In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, they celebrated Bhogi, the harvest festival of Andhra Pradesh.  Bhogi is where people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid-fuels and wooden furniture at home that are no longer useful. The disposal of derelict things is where all old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the sacrificial fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the "Rudra Gita Gyana Yagya". It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating various divine virtues.

Malaysia (State of Negeri Sembilan) had a holiday for their State Ruler’s Birthday.

Sri Lanka celebrated Tamil Thai Pongal Day. Thai Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamil people at the end of the harvest season.  It is a four-day festival which runs from last day of the month Maargazhi to the third day of the month Thai on the Tamil calendar, and generally from January 13 to January 16 on the Gregorian calendar. The second of the four days, the first day of Thai, is the main day of the festival and called Pongal.  Thai Pongal is primarily celebrated to convey appreciation and thankfulness to the Sun as the primary energy source of agriculture and good harvests. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry,and Sri Lanka.  In Tamil, the word pongal means "overflowing" and signifies abundance and prosperity. On the day of Pongal, there is a symbolic ritual of boiling fresh milk in a new clay pot at sunrise. When the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, people shout "Pongalo Pongal!"

12 January

India (state of West Bengal) celebrated Swami Vivekanand Jayanti.

8 January

Cambodia had another holiday for Victory Day.

Japan celebrated Coming of Age Day.  This national holiday was established in 1948 as a day to congratulate and encourage people who have reached the age of maturity (20) during the year. Cities and towns throughout the nation hold ceremonies for these people. Originally held on January 15, in 2000 it was changed to the second Monday of January in accordance with the Happy Monday System.

7 January

Cambodia celebrated Victory Day.  This national holiday was established to commemorate the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

4 January

Myanmar/Burma celebrated Independence Day, marking independence from British Empire in 1948.

3 January

Japan (banks and government) had another holiday for New Year.

2 January

New Year’s Day Holiday was observed in Japan and Thailand.

Bhutan celebrated Winter Solstice.

India (state of Kerala) celebrated Mannam Jayanti.

1 January

New Year’s Day was celebrated in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • India (states of Pondicherry, TN and TS)
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia (except states of Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu)
  • Maldives
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • North Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Timor Leste
  • Vietnam

New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in the Roman Empire since 45 BC. Romans originally dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year (January) is named.   In present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar, New Year's Day is probably the world's most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone.

Taiwan also celebrated Republic Day.

31 December

The following countries had a holiday for New Year’s Eve:

  • Bangladesh
  • Philippines
  • Thailand

Timor Leste observed National Heroes Day.

30 December

Brunei had a holiday for New Year’s Eve.

Nepal, mostly the Gurung Community, celebrated Tamu Lhosar.

The Philippines celebrated Rizal Day, to commemorate the execution of national hero José Rizal by Spanish colonial government on December 30, 1896.

29 December

Japan had a holiday for New Year.

Mongolia celebrated National Independence Day.

27 December

North Korea celebrated Constitution Day, the enactment of the Constitution of North Korea in 1998.