New Year’s Day 2009 is an occasion of universal celebration. It is an occasion when everyone bids farewell to the passing year and gives a grand welcome to the New Year. The time and celebration of New Year varies from region to region and religion to religion across the world. This is because people in different parts of the world are in different timezones according to the Greenwich Mean Time. Also, some countries follow an altogether different calendar. Some calendars are based on the movement of the moon, others are based on the position of the sun, while others are based on both the sun and the moon. All over the world, there are special beliefs about New Year.
New Year’s Celebration was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. It is purely arbitrary. The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular grand mode of celebration.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year in late March. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 B.C, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 B.C, established the Julian calendar. It again established January 1st as the New Year. But in order to synchronies the calendar with sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days!!!
Although in the first centuries of A.D the Romans continued celebrating the New Year, the early Catholic Church condemned festivities aspaganism. But as Christianity became more widespread the early Church began having its own religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, and New Years' Day was no different. New Year's Day is still observed as the Feast of Christ's Circumcision by some denomination.
During the middle ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New Year. January 1st has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only about the past 400 years. Catholic countries adopted it soon. Germany adopted it in 1700, Great Britain in 1752, and Sweden in 1753.
The Oriental countries through the influence of religious groups such as the Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists and Muslims, considered the new calendar as the Christian Calendar, but also adopted it as their official one. Japan welcomed it in 1873 and Chinain 1912.
Symbolically, New Year signifies a renewal of life. Hence, the spirit of celebration for the regeneration, while discarding the old and worn out. Today the Roman New Year is a gala event everywhere. People in India and around the world start the New Year celebrations from 31st December itself. Many people adopt New Year's resolutions; others take New Year as an occasion for giving gifts and presents. New Year decorations are put up everywhere, right from shops, streets and houses. Wishes are exchanged between friends and family. Cards, cakes and many other delicacies mark the celebrations all over the world. New Year's Eve parties are a very common scenario in Urban India. Like western countries at midnight, bells ring, sirens sound, firecrackers light the night sky, and everyone sings out, “Happy New Year!”
In America New Year is celebrated in much fanfare at NewYork City. In New York city the world famous Waterford crystal balllocated high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59:00 PM and reachesthe bottom of its lower at the stroke of midnight (12:00:00 AM) on January 1. Other Ball Drops take place in Copacabana Beach in RioDe Janeiro and Sydney Harbor and at the Vienna New YearConcert, in Austria. This day is also the occasion of making bonfires of discarded Christmas treesin some countries. In Scotland,there are many special customs associated with the New Year. The Scottish namefor the New Year celebration is Hogmanay.
New Year's Eve is a public non working holiday in US, UK, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, Argentina, Germany, Philippinesand Venezuela. Sydneyis a crowd puller in New Year's Eve celebration and generally over 1.2 million people gather at Sydney Harbor Bridgeand four other firing points to see the fireworks in New Year. In Hong Kong people usually gather in Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront.
The Big Ben in London is the key to the New Year Celebrations. Spectators gather around Honmanay Street party in Edinburgh, with fireworks being set off from the castle and other major hills around thecity. London Eye is also among other famous places that displays spectacularfireworks. The moment of midnight is marked by the sound of Big Ben in UK ; Thetraditional song, Auld Lang Syne sung in first moments of the New Year , afterthe final stroke of the of the bell.
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