Home > Calendar > Holidays > New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations around the world because it marks the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, December 31. Many people celebrate the end of the year with mixed emotions – joy and reflection – while anticipating for the New Year.

Use our Countdown to the New Year to keep track of your New Year countdown no matter where you are in the world.

Happy People

Many people celebrate New Year's Eve to farewell the year that ends and to welcome the New Year.

©iStockphoto.com/Dmitriy Shironosov

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.

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.

Related holiday

Advertising

Other calendars

Related links