We are about to celebrate the New Year on the Gregorian Calendar. But, did you know that the Jewish calendar actually has FOUR New Years!
1) The first of Nissan, the month in which Passover is celebrated, is regarded as the new year for months. The first commandment that God gave to the Jewish people was to sanctify the new year, beginning with the month of Nissan. It is this date which we use to calculate the Jewish festivals. As the beginning of the political year in ancient Israel, it was also the date used for defining the reigns of the Kings of Israel.
2) The first of Elul, the sixth month of the year, is the new year for tithing animals. Whether an animal qualifies for the tithe for year "A" or year "B" is determined by whether the animal was born before or after the first of Elul.
3) The first of Tishrei, the seventh month of the year, is the beginning of the calendar year for produce and for the Jubilee. This is the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, when a person's behavior for the previous year is judged by the Heavenly courts. On Rosh Hashanah we calculate the date of the new calendar year, based on the number of years since the creation of Adam (currently 5769).
4) The fifteenth of Shevat, the eleventh month of the year, is the new year for trees, when the sap starts running and life begins its slow return.