The Significance of New Year's Day

The Significance of New Year's Day

The New Year 2020 was met with great excitement across the globe as it marked the end of a decade. Billions of people were celebrating and dancing on the streets wherever they were around the world. The new decade was ushered in with so much funfair, celebration, and most importantly, hope for better fortunes in the new decade. There was a wide celebration at the Flamborough Fire Festival, Flamborough, England. The fire festival attracted more than 15,000 visitors from around the world to celebrate the New Year. A motley crowd witnessed the New Year’s Eve tradition of USA at the Times Square in New York on 31st December 2019. People came from all over to usher in the new decade. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with wild excitement and high anticipation for the new decade. The frenzy continued well into new Year’s day all around the globe.  

New Year’s Day  

New Year’s day is the first day of the year, following both the Gregorian and the Julian calendar. It is a symbol of new beginnings, a moment of reignited hopes and celebrations. Many people see New Year as an avenue to start afresh and re-strategise. It is for this reason that the phrase “new year new me” is used by many. People see it as a new opportunity to achieve what they couldn’t achieve in the previous year. The New Year is a day for celebrating newly found happiness and a clean slate. For many, celebrating the New Year is an opportunity to learn from the concluding year and make positive changes towards personal development. New Year’s Day is one of the most celebrated public holidays worldwide. It is often celebrated with new year songs, secular music, funfair, and fireworks.  It is also a time for sober reflection for some people. It is a time to make New Year’s resolutions and check-in on friends and family.  

The Origin Of New Year Celebration 

You may be asking yourself, why do we celebrate New Year’s day? The New Year is one of the oldest holidays, which is still celebrated with the same intensity, if not more. The exact date and nature of the celebration have changed over time. The history of new year celebration dates back to 2000 BC. 

It originated in ancient Babylon, Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). It was celebrated as an eleven-day festival on the first day of spring. During this time, the sun and moon reading was used to decide the “first” day of the year. It was not until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that 1st January became the recognised date for New Year’s day celebration. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to celebrating Janus, the god of gateways and beginnings, after whom January is named. There is also a grammatical dilemma regarding the concept of the New Year. People do ask, is it happy New Year or New Years? When you wish someone Happy New Years, it implies that you are combining multiple years. However, on planet earth at least, you can only witness one year at a time. So, grammatically, Happy New Year is the correct the phrase to use.  

New Year’s Eve Traditions 

The day before the New Year is called New Year’s eve and is also known as the Old Year’s Day or 

Saint Sylvester’s Day. It is the last day of the concluded year. New Year’s eve heralds the New Year celebration. The common practice worldwide to celebrate New Year’s eve include attending parties, binge eating and drinking, making resolutions for the New Year, and happy new year fireworks display. Christians attend watch night service to usher in the New Year.  

In Spain and some other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes right before the stroke of midnight to symbolise their hopes for the New Year. In major parts of the world, 

traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which is believed to symbolise coins and signal future financial success. Examples of New Year dishes include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern parts of the United States. In countries like Hungary, Portugal, and Cuba where Pigs symbolise advancement and affluence, pork appears on New Year’s Eve menu. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries are served in Mexico, Greece, and the Netherlands to symbolises a hint that the year has come full circle. In Sweden and Norway, rice pudding with an almond buried perfectly inside is served on New Year’s Eve. It is believed that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of great fortune. 

Other common practices include singing and dancing to welcome the New Year, including the popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the New Year is said to have first originated among the ancient Babylonians. They made promises in order to earn the favour of the gods and start the year off on a clean slate (They would vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment). 

In the United States, the most celebrated New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New 

York City’s Times Square on the first day of the year. Millions of people worldwide watch the event, 

which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Various towns and cities across America have created their versions of the giant ball dropping ritual. People organise events to drop items ranging from pickles to possums at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  

However, with how the Year 2020 played out, there may not be a repeat of the wild celebration witnessed across the globe at the beginning of the year. The larger part of 2020 was plagued with a global battle against the Covid 19 pandemic which took the lives of millions of people on every part of the planet. With the second wave of a mutated Covid 19 virus gathering momentum, public celebrations to usher in a new year is the last thing on most people’s mind and may not be advisable. 

For almost two decades, London has hosted one of the wildest street parties in the world on New Year’s Eve. About 100,000 spectators line up at the Victoria Embankment to witness the lighting of over 2,000 fireworks which is always a beauty to behold. However, the tradition has been broken this year as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had to cancel the event as a precaution against the spread of the new strain of Covid 19. He told LBC, “We simply can’t afford to have the numbers of people who congregate on New Year’s Eve, congregating.”  

 In America, a century-old event, the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square New York will be very different this year. Due to the pandemic, the iconic event will be held virtually. There will be honorees (most likely first-responders and medical professionals) who will be part of the small-scale celebrations at Times Square. These are few indications that the New Year’s Eve and New Year celebrations will be a subdued one this year. The second wave of Covid 19 has engendered expedient decisions across the globe to restrict gatherings and encourage social distancing. 

 New Year Celebration 

The Pacific Island nations of Samoa, Kiribati and Tonga are the first countries to celebrate the new year. New Year’s is widely celebrated in Europe and other continents. Streets are decorated before New Year’s Eve, and there are fireworks, fashion shows and musical concerts held all over the globe. Restaurants, clubs, cafes and hotels host New Year’s Eve and New Year parties with so many guests in attendance.  

What To Do For New Year’s Eve And New Year 

The cloud of uncertainty across the globe and declaration of precautionary measures against the second wave of Covid 19 pandemic by world leaders means the New Year’s celebration will be restricted to private spaces and limited gatherings. The usual question of what is open on New Year’s day is not in the air like previous years. This is because most of the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day events have been cancelled. However, this does not mean you cannot celebrate the New Year. You can still participate in some activities to celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you’re pondering on what to do for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day, here are some suggestions.  

1.The internet has been one of the positives of 2020 has it has helped the world to adapt to the effects of Covid 19. To celebrate the New Year, you can host a Video or Voice Conference call with your loved ones on conference call platforms. You can use the conference call as an avenue to usher in the New Year with your loved ones. 

2.You can also join a Virtual Religious program. Religious bodies are likely to hold virtual new year programmes to usher in the New Year.  

3.You can join in on various virtual concerts that will be celebrating the New Year’s Eve day and New Year’s day. It may not be like what you are used to, but you get to celebrate with different people all around the world.  

4.You can also utilise the opportunity of the quiet and comfort of your home for sober reflection on 2020. You can write down your new year resolutions. Try to cover a range of things like career, health, finances, family and self-development. 

5.You can make a Memory Jar to keep account of remarkable things over the next 12 months. Every time something great or incredible happens, pen it down in a piece of paper and put it in the jar. On New Year’s Eve of 2022, you can open the jar and take a walk down memory lane with your loved ones. 

6.You can also make monetary or material donations to the needy during the festive period as a way of wishing them a happy new year.

New Year’s Day celebration is an age-long tradition, which has evolved into celebrating the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It symbolises a transition from the old to the new. It is a moment of sober reflection on concluding the year. New Year’s is a time to prepare and hope for a better year ahead. As the world is still battling against Covid 19 pandemic, we all should abide by every safety protocol outlined by health authorities. Happy New Year!

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