In the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Eve takes place annually on 31 December which is the seventh day of the Christmas season and is the last day of the year. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year’s Day, 1 January. Samoa, Tonga and Kiritimati (Christmas Island), part of Kiribati, are the first places to welcome the New Year while American Samoa and Baker Island in the United States of America are among the last.
In the United States, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with formal parties, family-oriented activities, and other large public events. The most prominent celebration in the country is the “ball drop” held in New York City’s Times Square. Inspired by the time balls that were formerly used as a time signal, at 11:59 p.m. ET, an 11,875-pound (5,386 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) diameter Waterford crystal ball located on the roof of One Times Square is lowered down a pole that is 70 feet high, reaching the roof of the building sixty seconds later to signal the start of the New Year. The event has been held since 1907, and has seen an average attendance of 90,000 yearly. The popularity of the spectacle has inspired similar events outside of New York City, which often use objects that represent a region’s culture, geography, or history—such as Atlanta’s “Peach Drop”, representing Georgia’s identity as the “Peach State”, and Brasstown, North Carolina’s controversial lowering of a live opossum in a glass enclosure.
Radio and television broadcasts of festivities from New York City helped to ingrain them in American pop culture; beginning on the radio in 1928, and on CBS television from 1956 to 1976 with ball drop coverage, Guy Lombardo and his band, The Royal Canadians, presented an annual New Year’s Eve broadcast from the ballroom of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The specials were best known for the Royal Canadians’ signature performance of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight, which made the standard synonymous with the holiday. Following Lombardo’s death in 1977, the competing program New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (which premiered for 1973 on NBC before moving to its current home, ABC, for 1975), succeeded the Royal Canadians as the dominant New Year’s Eve special on U.S. television. Its creator and host, Dick Clark, intended the program to be a modern and youthful alternative to Lombardo’s big band music. Including ABC’s special coverage of the year 2000, Clark would host New Year’s Eve coverage on ABC for 33 straight years.Sadly Dick Clark Suffered a stroke in December 2004 so Regis Philbin guest hosted for 2005. Clark retired as full-time host of the special for the 2006 edition, and was succeeded by Ryan Seacrest. Clark continued to make limited appearances on the special until his death in 2012.
Other notable celebrations include those on the Las Vegas Strip, where streets are closed to vehicle traffic on the evening of New Year’s Eve, and a fireworks show is held at midnight which spans across multiple buildings on the Strip. Los Angeles, a city long without a major public New Year celebration, held an inaugural gathering in Downtown’s newly completed Grand Park to celebrate the beginning of 2014. The event included food trucks, art installations, and culminating with a projection mapping show on the side of Los Angeles City Hall near midnight. The inaugural event drew over 25,000 spectators and participants. For 2016, Chicago introduced an event known as Chi-Town Rising. Alongside the festivities in Times Square, New York’s Central Park hosts a “Midnight Run” event organized by the New York Road Runners, which culminates in a fireworks show and a race around the park that begins at midnight. Major theme parks may also hold New Year’s celebrations; Disney theme parks, such as Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, are traditionally the busiest during the days up to and including New Year’s Eve.
In the Roman Catholic Church, 1 January is a solemnity honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus; it is a Holy Day of Obligation in most countries (Australia being a notable exception), thus the Church requires the attendance of all Catholics in such countries for Mass that day. However a vigil Mass may be held on the evening before a Holy Day; thus it has become customary to celebrate Mass on the evening of New Year’s Eve. (New Year’s Eve is a feast day honoring Pope Sylvester I in the Roman Catholic calendar, but it is not widely recognized in the United States.)
Many Christian congregations have New Year’s Eve watchnight services. Some, especially Lutherans and Methodists and those in the African American community, have a tradition known as “Watch Night”, in which the faithful congregate in services continuing past midnight, giving thanks for the blessings of the outgoing year and praying for divine favor during the upcoming year.
In the English-speaking world, Watch Night can be traced back to John Wesley, the founder of Methodism,who learned the custom from the Moravian Brethren who came to England in the 1730s. Moravian congregations still observe the Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve. Watch Night took on special significance to African Americans on New Year’s Eve 1862, as slaves anticipated the arrival of 1 January 1863, when Lincoln had announced he would sign the Emancipation Proclamation.
The most prominent New Year’s celebration in England is that of Central London, where the arrival of midnight is greeted with the chimes of Big Ben. In recent years, a major fireworks display has also been held, with fireworks launched from the nearby London Eye ferris wheel. On New Year’s Eve 2010, an estimated 250,000 people gathered to view an eight-minute fireworks display around and above the London Eye which was, for the first time, set to a musical soundtrack. The celebrations in London continued into 1 January, with the New Year’s Day Parade, held annually since 1987. The 2011 parade involved more than 10,000 musicians, cheerleaders and performers. Other major New Year events are held in the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Newcastle.
In Scotland, New Year’s is celebrated as Hogmanay. This involves several different customs, such as First-Footing, which involves friends or family members going to each other’s houses with a gift of whisky and sometimes a lump of coal. Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, hosts one of the world’s most famous New Year celebrations. The celebration is focused on a major street party along Princes Street. The cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle at the stroke of midnight, followed by a large fireworks display. Edinburgh hosts a festival of four or five days, beginning on 28 December, and lasting until New Year’s Day or 2 January, which is also a bank holiday in Scotland. Other cities across Scotland, such as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stirling have large organised celebrations too, including fireworks at midnight. BBC Scotland broadcast the celebrations in Edinburgh to a Scottish audience, with the celebrations also screened across the world. STV covers both worldwide New Year celebrations, and details of events happening around Scotland.
In Wales on New Years day (Calennig) The Welsh have a tradition of giving gifts and money on New Year’s Day (Welsh: Calennig) is an ancient custom that survives in modern-day Wales, though nowadays it is now customary to give bread and chees. A Mari Lwyd is also Traditionally carried from door to door during Calennig in Wales in Cardiff Thousands of people descend to enjoy live music, catering, ice-skating, funfairs and fireworks. With Many of the celebrations taking place at Cardiff Castle and Cardiff City Hall. The Nos Galan road race (Rasys Nos Galan), a 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) running race, is also held in Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales. The race celebrates the life and achievements of Welsh runner Guto Nyth Brân. Founded in 1958 by local runner Bernard Baldwin, it is run over the 5 kilometre route of Guto’s first competitive race. The main race starts with a church service at Llanwynno, and then a wreath is laid on Guto’s grave in Llanwynno graveyard. After lighting a torch, it is carried to the nearby town of Mountain Ash, where the main race takes place. The race consists of a double circuit of the town centre, starting in Henry Street and ending in Oxford Street, by the statue of Guto. Traditionally, the race was timed to end at midnight, but in recent times it was rescheduled for the convenience of family entertainment, now concluding at around 9pm. Over the years This has grown, and the proceedings now start with an afternoon of street entertainment, and fun run races for children, concluding with the church service, elite runners’ race and presentations.