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New Year's Day is the first day of the new year. On the modern Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated on January 1, as it was also in ancient Rome (though other dates were also used in Rome). In all countries using the Gregorian calendar as their main calendar, except for Israelmarker, it is a public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year.

Modern practices

January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of a particular passing year, especially on radio, television, and in newspapers, which usually starts right after Christmas Day. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts, and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has become an occasion for celebration the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight. Depending on the country, individuals may be legally allowed to burn fireworks, even if it's usually outlawed the rest of the year.

It is also customary to make New Year's resolutions, which individuals hope to fulfil in the coming year. The most popular resolutions in the western world include to quit tobacco smoking, stop excessive drinking of alcohol, lose weight, and get physically fit.


Probably observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, New Year's Day was fixed on January 1 by the period of the Late Republic. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter. Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December

Among the 7th-century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlandsmarker it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year, a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25 (9 months before December 25), was the first day of the new year in England until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was called Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was called Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25.

New Year's Days in other calendars

In cultures which traditionally or currently use calendars other than the Gregorian, New Year's Day is often also an important celebration. Some countries concurrently use the Gregorian and another calendar. New Year's Day in the alternative calendar often attracts more elaborate celebrations than the Gregorian New Year.

Other celebrations on 1 January

Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that Jesus was born on December 25, and that, according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (which would be January 1). The Catholic Church has also given the name Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to their holy day on January 1.

Specific, high-profile or common celebrations

New Year's Day

  • On New Year's Day, people in certain countries gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. Canada, Irelandmarker, United Kingdommarker, United Statesmarker and Australia are the most popular countries for this. These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges, and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity. Polar Bear Clubs in many northern hemisphere cities near bodies of water, have a tradition of holding organized plunges on New Year's Day.
  • In Britainmarker an extra round of football fixtures is played (unless New Year's Day falls on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday).
  • In Pasadena, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker, the Tournament of Roses is held, with revellers viewing the parade from the streets and watching on television, followed by the Rose Bowlmarker college football game. The game is one of several post-season bowl games played in college football in the United States (though in 2004 and 2006, due to its involvement in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the Rose Bowl game was not held on New Year's Day).
  • Vienna New Year Concert, in Austria.
  • In Philadelphiamarker, the Mummers Parade is held on Broad Street.
  • Hindu New Year, which falls at the time and date Sun enters Mesha.
  • Hindus celebrate the new year by paying respects to their parents and other elders and seek their blessings. They also exchange tokens of Good Wishes for healthy and prosperous year ahead.
  • The New Year's Day Parade is held in Londonmarker. Performers include acts from each of the city's 32 boroughs, as well as entertainment from around the world.
  • Since 2008, the National Hockey League has held its annual Winter Classic, an outdoor regular season hockey game, on New Year's Day.
  • In the southern United States, people traditionally prepare a meal of collard greens, black-eyed peas and pork for a year of good luck. A dime is often placed beneath the plate as a part of the tradition.
  • Ski jumping in Garmisch-Partenkirchenmarker in Germany, a part of the Four Hills Tournament.
  • In Pennsylvania and Ohio, mostly in or near Pennsylvania "Dutch" areas, it is common to celebrate New Year's Day with a meal of pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. The practice comes from a Pennsylvania "Dutch" tradition that dictates these foods will bring good luck in the new year.

New Year's Eve

  • In Brazilmarker, celebrations are held around the nation. Most famous is the celebration in Rio de Janeiromarker which occurs in Copacabanamarker beach, drawing 1.5 to 2.5 million people.
  • In Australia, celebrations are held around the nation, especially in Sydneymarker, where one of the world's largest fireworks displays draws 1 to 1.5 million people to the harbour. Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate the new year.
  • In New York Citymarker, the 11,875-pound (5,386-kg), 12-foot-diameter (3.7-m) Times Square Ball located high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59:00 p.m., or the last minute of the year, and reaches the bottom of its tower at the stroke of midnight with fireworks. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors.
  • Other ball drops occur in Copacabanamarker beach in Rio de Janeiromarker and Sydney Harbourmarker.
  • In European countries, the New Year is greeted with massive private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.
  • In Scotlandmarker, there are many special customs associated with the New Year. These are a part of the Scottish celebration Hogmanay, the Scots name for the New Year. The World famous street party in Princes Streetmarker in Edinburghmarker is one of the examples of Hogmanay events. For more see here.
  • In Russiamarker the New Year is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with lavish dinner tables and gifts. The president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. A giant clock tower chimes in the new year, and it is customary to make a wish with each chime. (See Novi God)
  • In South Koreamarker, the most popular way of celebrating New Year's Day is to travel to Jung dong jin, the place on the peninsula where the Sun can first be seen each day.
  • Junkanoo parade, in Nassau, Bahamasmarker.
  • Some mayors in North America hold New Year levees.
  • In Walesmarker, Calennig is celebrated, with celebrations attracting thousands of people in the capital, Cardiffmarker.
  • Japanese New Year in Japanmarker.
  • The Peach Drop in Underground Atlantamarker, Atlanta, Georgiamarker, United States.
  • In Davosmarker, Switzerlandmarker, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
  • In the Philippinesmarker, people light fireworks, loud firecrackers, booming sound system, bamboo canons as well as make a lot of noise. Coins are also jumbled in tin cans to make noise with the belief that this will bring more money to the revelers. Children are encouraged to jump about as there was an old belief that this was supposed to make you taller. People wear clothing with polka-dots, the round figures symbolizing fertility and abundance (as in round fruits and coins). 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.
  • Israelmarker is one country that uses the Gregorian calendar but does not formally celebrate the New Year's holiday — mainly due to objections by religious parties on the holiday's Christian origins. However, many secular Israelis do partake in some sort of informal celebration, especially if they have European, North American, or former USSRmarker origins, who celebrate the Russian version of the holiday, Novi God.
  • It is popular to kiss loved ones on New Year's Eve.

Images associated with New Year's Day

In Brittany, a common image used is that of an incarnation of Father Time (or the "Old Year") wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it passing on his duties to the Baby New Year (or the "New Year"), an infant wearing a sash with the new year printed on it.

New Year's babies

People born on New Year's Day are commonly called New Year babies. Hospitals, such as the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center in the U.S., give out prizes to the first baby born in that hospital in the new year. These prizes are often donated by local businesses. Prizes may include various baby related items such as baby formula, baby blanket, diapers, and gift certificates to stores which specialize in baby related merchandise.

See also


  1. Popular New Year's Resolutions on
  2. Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967), p. 97-8.
  3. DRMC rounds up prizes for New Year's baby, Life Choices

External links

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