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Many Americans attend special New Year's Eve celebrations where food and drinks, such as wine, are served.

 

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve, which is on December 31, is the last day of the year in the United States. It is a major social observance and many parties are held, particularly in the evening.

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations because it marks the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, December 31, before the New Year. Count down to the New Year no matter where you are in the world.

Celebrate New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is a major social holiday for many people in the United States. Many people hold parties at home or attend special celebrations to celebrate the upcoming New Year. In many cities, large scale public events are held. These often attract thousands of people.

A particularly striking aspect of the New Year's Eve festivities is the ball drop in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City. The ball is made of crystal and electric lights and is placed on top of a pole, which is 77 feet, or 23 meters, high. At one minute before midnight on December 31, the ball is lowered slowly down the pole. It comes to rest at the bottom of the pole at exactly midnight. The event is shown on television across the United States and around the world. The event has been held every year since 1907, except during World War II.

Across the United States a range of cities and towns hold their own versions of the ball drop. A variety of objects are lowered or raised during the last minute of the year. The objects are usually linked to an aspect of local history or industry. Examples of objects 'dropped' or raised in this way include a variety of live and modeled domestic and wild animals, fruit, vegetables, automobiles, industrial machinery, a giant replica of a peach (Atlanta, Georgia), an acorn made of brass and weighing 900 pounds (Raleigh, North Carolina) and ping pong balls (Strasburg, Pennsylvania).

Public life

December 31 is not a federal holiday, but it does fall in the holiday season at the end of the year. It is a holiday in some states like Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Most schools and other educational institutions throughout the United States are closed. Some organizations are closed and others are open but offer limited services. Many stores are open on New Year's Eve, but may close early. Many theaters, clubs and other entertainment venues have special programs. It may be necessary to reserve tickets many weeks in advance.

Public transit systems may operate normal or reduced services. Some companies extend their schedules into the early hours of January 1 to enable people who have attended New Year's Eve parties to return home safely. If you need to use public transit on December 31, it is wise to check the appropriate timetables carefully before you travel.

There may be some congestion to traffic or diversions around large scale events. Diversions may be in effect in the days before New Year's Eve so that stands can be built. It is wise to check the local media if you wish to drive to or near large scale events.

What do people do?

New Year’s Eve is a day of mixed feelings for many people. On one hand, it is a time to celebrate the end of the year gone by and welcome what is in store in the New Year. On the other hand, some people experience a sense of nostalgia as they reflect on the events that took place in their lives in the past 12 months. Many people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions at this time of the year.

Some people celebrate New Year’s Eve by attending midnight church services, while others gather around in public venues such as Times Square in New York City, or Trafalgar Square in London to count down for the closing seconds of the old year. Many people hold parties to farewell the finishing year and to celebrate the New Year. The size of festive events for New Year’s Eve can vary in size and theme. Some people attend formal masquerade balls while others have costume parties. Some people have small parties or gatherings at their homes. Many New Year’s Eve celebrations are highlighted by firework displays.

Many people start counting down to New Year’s Day in the last minute or seconds before the last night of the year ends and the New Year begins. Some people tune into watching televised countdowns. As the clock strikes midnight into New Year’s Day, many people celebrate this event by exchanging hugs, kisses, and wish each other a “Happy New Year”. In some parts of the world, including in the United States, many people sing the Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne” during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

About New Year's Eve

In both the Gregorian calendar, currently used in the United States, and the Julian calendar, which was used until 1752 in the British colonies, the last day of the year is December 31. In Europe, the mid-winter period was traditionally associated with feasting and parties. In the early years of the American colonies and within the United States, this type of celebration was often frowned upon, particularly by religious communities.

Around the start of the 1900s, New Year's Eve celebrations in America started to appear. The first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. Around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on January 1.

Public life

New Year’s Eve is a public holiday in places such as Latvia, the Philippines, and San Marino. It is a holiday for banks in countries such as Bangladesh, Brunei, Paraguay, and Japan (New Year’s Eve is also a government holiday in Japan).

New Year’s Eve is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, but some businesses close early, schools are usually closed, and many people may have half a day off work.  Those wishing to travel via public transport may need to check with the local transport authorities on public transport schedules for New Year’s Eve.

Background

New Year's Eve is the last day of the year and the day before New Year’s Day, which marks the start of a new year according to the Gregorian calendar. Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It was adopted immediately in some areas of Europe but it was not used in various countries until even centuries later. For example, the United Kingdom and the United States started observing the Gregorian calendar in 1752, in which 11 days were dropped.

New Year’s Eve festivities can be traced back to celebrations in Europe that date back before Christianity spread.  When many inhabitants in Europe were converted to Christianity, these festivals were merged with Christian beliefs and in time came to mark holidays such as the New Year’s Eve and New Year celebrations.

It is important to note that not all cultures follow the Gregorian calendar in observing New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For example the New Year in the Hindu, Chinese, Coptic, Jewish, Islamic calendars differ to that of the Gregorian calendar.

Symbols

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are symbolized in various ways across the world. Midnight between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is often marked by fireworks and fire crackers. Many people drink and toast with champagne or other sparkling wine.

 

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