Traditions around the U.S.
New Year’s Day is observed on Jan. 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is internationally the most widely accepted civil calendar.
It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named. The Gregorian calendar was adopted initially by the Catholic countries of Europe, with other countries adopting it over the following centuries. With most countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, New Year’s Day is the closest thing to being the world’s only truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts.
Jan. 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including on radio, television and in newspapers, which starts in early Dec. in countries around the world.
Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. In some cases publications may set their entire year work alight in hope that the smoke emitted from the flame brings new life to the company. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.
One New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, thousands of people pledge New Year’s resolutions, in hope to make a change in their own lives. Traditionally, “For Auld Lang Syne” is sung on New Year’s Eve, an extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s, attributed to Robert Burns whose transcription were the most popular. The best translation of the words “auld lang syne” is “times gone by.” So when this song is sung, people are saying, “We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by.”
Traditions around the world
In the US, it is traditional to spend this occasion together with loved ones. A toast is made to the New Year, with kisses, fireworks and parties among the customs. It is popular to make a New Year’s resolution, although that is optional.
In the country’s most famous New Year celebration in New York City, the 11,875-pound, 12-foot-diameter Times Square Ball located high above One Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59 p.m., with a countdown from sixty seconds until one second, when it reaches the bottom of its tower.
The arrival of the New Year is announced at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, music and a live celebration that is broadcast worldwide.
In France, people concern much attention to the weather that day. They regard the weather as the prediction of that year: wind blowing east, fruit will yield; wind blowing west, fish and livestock will be bumper; wind blowing south, there will be good weather all year round and wind blowing north, there will be crop failure. People would like to toast for the New Year and drink till Jan. 3. They think that they can’t gain a beautiful year if they don’t drink up all the wine left last year.
In Spain, you should have 12 grapes at hand when the clock strikes 12 at midnight. For each stroke you should eat one grape. If you manage to consume all grapes within the period of the strikes, it means good luck in the New Year.
In London, England, thousands gather along the Embankment on the River Thames to watch the fireworks around the London Eye. The new year officially starts when Big Ben strikes twelve.
In Greece and Cyprus, families and relatives switch off the lights at midnight, and then celebrate by cutting the “vassilopita” (Basil’s pie) which usually contains one coin or equivalent. Whoever wins expects luck for the whole year. After the pie, a traditional game of cards called “triantaena” (31) follows.
In the Philippines, fireworks and a booming sound system make a lot of noise with the belief that the noises will scare evil spirits away, preventing them from bringing bad luck to the coming new year. The tables are laden with food for the Media Noche or midnight meal, and there is a basket of 12 different round fruits to symbolize prosperity in each of the coming year’s 12 months.
Public new year parties like those in New York and Sydney are also available to the public and are very well attended.
Information sources: wikipedia.com, tlc.howstuffworks.com