Rosh Hashanah 2 - Four New Years
There are four New Years (Rosh Hashanah): for the kings, for the Holidays, for the animals, and for the plants. How so?
The New Year for the (Jewish) kings starts on the first day of the month of Nisan. That is, if a king ascended the throne even one day before Nisan, this is still considered the first year of his reign, and on the first of Nisan they begin counting his second year. This year is then used in business documents, such as loan notes, to honor the king.
Why does there have a to be a New Year for the Holidays (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot)? - for promises. If someone promises a sacrifice, he needs to bring it within the next three Holidays, but he starts counting not from the day of the promise but from Nisan. In an extreme case therefore, if he promises the sacrifice before Shavuot, he has five Holidays to bring it: Shavuot, Sukkot, Pesach, next Shavuot, next Sukkot.
The New Year of the animals is for animal tithe: all animals born in that years are tithed together. The New Year of the trees is for counting the first three years during which their fruit is prohibited - this is known as " orlah ".
Art: Giant Redwood Trees of California By Albert Bierstadt