The San of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa also conduct their New Year ceremonies at the beginning of the rainy season.
Among the Selknam (in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago) and the Andaman Islanders, the ceremonies focus chiefly on banishing the bad (cold or stormy) season of the year; elsewhere the emphasis is on inaugurating the good season with its abundant food (as in the ceremonies of the Australian Aborigines, which aim at an increase in certain species of animals).
The conflict between the old and the new time is also symbolized by ceremonial battles and by masquerades (in which the demons to be expelled or the creative ancestors of the primordial time may be represented).
In addition there is often a temporary suspension of the division between the world of the living and the world of the dead, with a return of the latter to the houses of the living, where they receive sacrifices and food but from which they are ceremoniously dismissed at the end of the festal period.
Even when the year is regarded as a basic division of time, the calculation is often based not (or not exclusively) on the sun and the moon but on the visibility of certain constellations; in tropical and subtropical areas, it is based with special frequency on the heliacal early rising of the Pleiades.
The beginning of the year, or the "New Year," is often not a precise and fixed date that is astronomically determined (e.g., by equinoxes or solstices).Rather, it is a period that is determined by the annual vegetation cycle or, more generally, by climatic processes (passage from the dark period of the year to the bright, from the cold to the warm, from the stormy to the calm, from the dry to the rainy).Such periods are often accompanied by festivities, and when the interval between such festivities is approximately as long as a solar year, one is justified in speaking of New Year festivals.These involve washing, fasting, putting off or destroying old clothing, and quenching fires as well as the expulsion of sicknesses and evil powers (demons) through cries, noisemaking, and blows or through the dispatch of an animal or human being on which are loaded the sins of the previous period of time.The ceremonies may also reintroduce chaos through the dissolution of the social order and the suspension of taboos in force at other times and, in some cases, through the election of a temporary pseudo-king.Because the peoples in question are sedentary inhabitants of islands and coasts, they are also often agriculturalists, where climatic conditions allow.But where the character of experience is determined primarily by the group's relation to the sea, this relation manifests itself in the New Year festival.That is to say, the year is by them empirically given but not limited in the abstract: above all it is not a calendrical and numerical quantity" (Nilsson, 1920, p. Thus in archaic cultures and in early high cultures the importance of New Year festivals is not, or is only in small measure, found in the fact that they are measures of time; the principal function of such ceremonies is to ensure, during a critical transitional period, a renewal of life and the life force.In fact in many instances they even assume the form of a symbolic new creation out of chaos.In the arctic climate of the Inuit (Eskimo) hunting (which consists chiefly of the slaying of marine mammals) is impossible during the winter months; these months are instead a time of intense ritual activity that reaches its climax at the winter solstice.Among the Inuit, religious exaltation finds expression in shamanistic activity and especially, as with hunters and food collectors generally, in dancing.