New Year’s Eve: History and Celebration
"Auld Lang Syne," perhaps the most famous New Year’s Eve song in the English-speaking world, is also considered "the song that nobody knows.” It might be apt that few people know the words to this song, because the meaning of New Year’s Eve in the Western world has always been somewhat nebulous. Use this New Year’s Eve Web Guide to learn what New Year’s is all about, and where to find celebrations, helpful hints on fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions and New Year’s customs from around the world.
New Year’s is renowned for celebrations. You don’t want to procrastinate, be without plans this New Year’s and have to wait another 364 days to have the time of your life. The sites in this section can help you decide how to make this occasion a memorable one with New Year’s Eve party tips, celebration suggestions and more.
- Time and Date AS makes sure you know exactly when the New Year starts, in every time zone in the world!
For the ball drop …
The Times Square Alliance
Web site is the place to go for all information regarding the Times Square New Year’s celebration and ball drop. Find all the logistical details on getting to Times Square on New Year’s, how to enter the area, when you should arrive and what you can expect.
For finding a New Year’s Eve party, restaurant or event …
lists the top 10 cities to visit for your New Year’s celebration, with Sydney, Australia topping the list. Check out the brief descriptions for each city and explore the hotel possibilities for your next New Year’s Eve.
focuses on parties, plain and simple. Find the best and worst places to be if you’re looking for a party on New Year’s Eve. (FYI: New York City is on the list of where not to go.)
is a great place to find a way to spend your New Year’s Eve. Search for a party, restaurant, event or activity, or promote your own party. The site makes it easy to search by location, type of party or by keyword. Purchase advance tickets or make reservations on the site, too.
For New Year's Eve concerts …
The Music Box
may not be the most attractive site but it does list New Year’s Eve concerts by state (though not every state has listings). Visit the concert link for reviews of the band and tour information.
For family-friendly and alternative New Year’s Eve events …
compiled the best 10 tips from its audience on throwing a great New Year’s party that the kids can enjoy. Look for creative ideas like how to make a layer cake with a fortune in each slice, or how to get everyone dancing with “the Bubble Wrap Stomp.”
First Night International
helps to sponsor alcohol-free, alternative New Year’s celebrations throughout the world. First Night usually consists of food, fireworks and musical performances, and artistic, theatrical and comical presentations. The festivities take place on the day and night of December 31. Unfortunately, not all of the participating First Night city
is packed with, well, things to do. Even though this isn’t specific to New Year’s, it is truly a great resource. Choose any state on the U.S. map to learn about that state’s regional attractions, recreation and events.
For making the most of New Year’s Eve by yourself …
author Marilee Tolen, a nurse turned home spa expert, wrote this article about having a relaxing New Year’s Eve on your own. Pamper yourself with her “Party Package ideas for one.”
For New Year’s recipes …
is always a reliable option when it comes to finding a good recipe. Take a look at some ideas for an open house, a New Year's gala and more.
Texas Cooking Online
describes the southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s. Supposedly, if you eat black-eyed peas on the first day of the new year, you’ll have good luck throughout the year. Take a look at these recipes for black-eyed peas, and some "Texas Caviar" for good measure.
For hangover remedies …
offers valuable hangover remedies and prevention measures suitable for both genders, despite the name of the site. Don’t miss the “Next Page” link near the bottom for more cures, because you could probably use all the help you can get.
Not all the fun takes place on the eve of the New Year. In the United States, football fans settle back on the couch on New Year’s Day to enjoy the national pastime. Thankfully, for those who don’t care about college football, there are other options. Read about New Year’s Day events with the helpful links below.
- New Year’s Eve and Day are known for television marathons. As the holiday nears, take a look at some Web sites with television listings to search for the marathon of your choice.
The Football Bowl Association
compiles all the college football bowls. Find a link to each bowl’s site, a logo of the bowl, the date and time, the television station that will broadcast the game, the location and the conferences of the teams involved.
is the answer for those who don’t enjoy football. Use this site to see what’s playing in theaters on New Year's Day, and where.
is your alternative to movies and football. Use the “Listings
” page to choose your time zone and provider, and then bask in the glory that is TV on your laid-back New Year’s Day.
The day after New Year’s Day usually marks the date when we break our New Year’s resolutions. So on Jan. 3, it’s time to really kick “Operation Keeping New Year’s Resolutions” into high gear. However, upholding all your resolutions isn’t easy on your own. The sites below can help you hit the ground running with hints on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions going strong.
- Various calendars are mentioned in the links below. Use this calendar converter to calculate the date in several calendars simultaneously, including the Gregorian, Julian, Hebrew, Islamic, Persian, Mayan, Bahá'í and Indian Civil calendars.
For the history of New Year’s resolutions …
wants to help you keep your resolutions. Look for a history of New Year’s resolutions, a list of famous people born on Jan. 1 and phrases for “Happy New Year” in different languages.
For help fulfilling New Year's resolutions …
makes it clear that the U.S. government wants you
to keep your New Year’s resolutions. Start with the “Popular New Year's Resolutions” and find links to help you bring each one to fruition. Want to find a better job? The Web page links to your state’s job bank. Want to pay off your debt? The site links you to a page from the Federal Trade Commission with tips and resources.
The University of Maryland Medical Center
knows that it’s not easy to make good on your New Year’s resolutions, especially when those resolutions involve living a healthier lifestyle. Benefit from tons of advice on making your health-minded New Year’s resolutions last.
is a unique Web site that wants to help you achieve those 43 things you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at other people’s lists of what they want to do with their lives. Once you sign up, create an account of your own 43 things and start achieving your goals.
presents a 2007 article explaining how a University of Calgary professor came up with a formula that indicates whether a person is prone to procrastination (Utility = E x V / ΓD, in case you're wondering).
You’re sitting in front of the TV next to your significant other, champagne in hand, counting down the minutes until the ball drops. But why are you here? You’re witnessing the end of a year and celebrating fresh beginnings, but is that really all that New Year’s is about? The links in this section uncover New Year's history, superstitions and traditions.
- Not every source on the Internet agrees on the history of New Year’s; that's because the origins are unclear and/or debatable. In other words, don’t rely on one source for your information.
- For information about New Year’s celebrations in countries other than the United States, take a look at the “New Year's Traditions Around the World” section.
offers a concise history of New Year’s, focusing on the progression of the calendar. The site begins with Mesopotamia in 2000 BCE, and traces the evolution of dates from the Roman calendar and the Julian calendar through the Gregorian calendar that we use today.
presents a list of “New Year’s Superstitions.” You’ll find some of the more common superstitions and customs here (like kissing at midnight), as well as some more obscure ones.
The Quote Garden
has a compilation of New Year’s quotes for those who need some humor, inspiration or a reality check for the New Year. For example, Oscar Wilde once said, “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”
Some type of New Year’s tradition, either jubilant or solemn, exists for every culture, even if they don’t agree on when the New Year actually starts. The links in this section teach you about New Year’s traditions around the world, including those practiced by Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Jewish and Muslim people, among others.
- The sites provided in this section are mainly introductory resources to give you a general overview of the respective New Year’s traditions.
- Various calendars are mentioned in the links below. Use this calendar converter to calculate the date in several calendars simultaneously, including the Gregorian, Julian, Hebrew, Islamic, Persian, Mayan, Bahá'í and Indian Civil calendars. Look for background information on each calendar, too.
provides a list of New Year’s celebrations “Around the World.” Learn about customs and traditions in countries as far away as Cambodia and Wales, or use the links on the left for New Year’s songs and recipes gathered from around the globe.
describes some New Year’s traditions from various countries that celebrate the New Year at the same time as the United States. The site also explores the roots of the song “Auld Lang Syne” and tells you how to say “Happy New Year!” in many languages
The History Channel
Web site has a stunning feature on the Chinese New Year, including a calendar listing the birth animals of each year since 1876, a description of traditions and symbols, an overview of typical food eaten on the holiday and a five-minute video on the history of the event.
teaches you all about Shogatsu
, the Japanese New Year. Learn about the celebration, food, rituals, traditions and customs, amusements and more. Note that there are a number of advertisements on the site.
has an abundance of information on Rosh Hashanah
, the Jewish New Year. Get a quick introduction to the holiday, read essays and stories, listen to songs, watch videos of world synagogues, view a section for kids and much more.
offers information on Al-Hijra
, the Muslim New Year’s day. As the BBC notes, this holiday is fairly “low key”—unlike many of the other New Year’s celebrations throughout the world—and is usually observed through prayer and reflection.
The Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India
has plenty of information on Diwali
, one of the biggest Hindu festivals. Learn about some of the legends associated with the holiday and how different regions of India celebrate it, and find recipes, songs, wallpapers and more.
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