The New Year is celebrated around the world in different ways and at different times. For people living in countries that follow the Gregorian calendar the New Year begins on 1st January. Celebrations are traditionally held the night before on New Year’s Eve. Across continents such as the USA, Australia and Europe, celebrations will commence with people gathering to see in the New Year together.
In some parts of Europe people come out of their homes and bang pots and pans to drive away evil spirits. In modern times a lot of people do not believe in evil spirits however the tradition of making noise at midnight has persisted. Fireworks are set off and people blare their car horns and make noise any way they can.
In countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea, to name but a few, the New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. These countries follow the lunisolar calendar which follows the moon phase and time of the solar year. A solar year is one orbit of the earth around the sun and in 2017 the New Year will begin on 28th January. The tradition of celebrating the New Year in these countries is centuries old and festivities are very similar to that of the western world. People clean their houses to rid them of bad spirits and families reunite and have dinner together. Fireworks are a large part of the celebrations in China and traditionally people dress in red clothes.
Times Square in New York is famously known for ‘dropping the ball’ to see in the New Year. Thousands of people gather each year to witness the event and festivities start early in the evening with the countdown on to midnight. The ball is dropped at 11.59pm precisely and celebrations go on until the early hours of the morning. Apart from the blackout years in the war the ball has been dropping every year since 1907.
Some countries have traditions which revolve around eating particular foods. For example people in Spain eat grapes at midnight, whereas the Greeks eat Vasilópita, a cake which has a coin or small object hidden inside. Whoever gets the object has good luck for the year.
Wherever people live in the world the festivities are remarkably similar and it is common for family and friends to see in the New Year together. The countdown to midnight is symbolic across nations, cultures and creeds and is recognised as a new beginning everywhere.