Being in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s summer holidays start around December 15th and finish on January 26th, which is Australia Day. (Summer itself doesn’t end until March). The United States also begins its school year after their summer vacation, which in North America means that the students start their new school year in September.
Japan is different again, with the new school year beginning in April. It doesn’t follow summer vacation, but rather spring vacation. In a way, this makes perfect sense, because Japan’s year is in perfect sync with the seasons.
Spring is the time when nature starts its cycle all over again, after a cold snowy winter in which ‘mother nature’ appears to hibernate; and just as the flowers once again begin to bloom, so does a new year. This is not just the case in schools and universities either, but also in the work place.
(A new year, with regard to schools and companies in Japan, should not be confused with the official “New Year Day” on January 1, called ‘Oshogatsu’ in Japanese. However, I was fascinated to learn that Japan only adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873, and before this time, Japan used a ‘lunar-solar’ calendar similar to that of China).