Ring in the New Year: A Guide to Global Celebrations and Traditions in 2024

On the night of December 31st and the morning of January 1st, people across many countries around the world will celebrate the beginning of the new year. How do they celebrate, and how did this tradition begin?

First, let’s talk about preparation. Get ready, read articles, and practice.


“As the words of the past year belong to the language of the last year, and the words of the next year await another voice.Furthermore, “to make a beginning is to make an end.” 

New Year, Old Celebration

For thousands of years, festivities have marked the beginning of the new year. Sometimes, it was just an occasion for people to eat, drink, and have fun. However, in some places, celebrations were linked to geographical or celestial events. For example, in Egypt, the new year began when the Nile River flooded, usually corresponding with the rising of the Sirius star. The Persians and Phoenicians celebrated their new year, Nowruz, with the arrival of spring (around March 20, when the sun is directly over the equator, and day and night are nearly equal).

Oldest Festival

In ancient Mesopotamia, the city of Babylon was where the celebration of the new year was recorded about 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians marked their festivities after the vernal equinox, and the festival was called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, used during the festival). Barley was cut in the spring season in Mesopotamia, and during Akitu, each of the 11 days of the festival had a different ritual. Statues of gods were paraded through the city streets, symbolizing the cleansing of their world for the preparation of the new year and new spring.

Modern Celebrations

In many cities around the world, splendid fireworks displays illuminate the sky as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31. In recent years, Sydney in Australia has been hosting one of the first major events because they welcome the new year before most other major international cities. The display in Sydney Harbor, with the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, creates a spectacular setting. At midnight, the sky lights up with fireworks in hundreds of cities worldwide.

Living Traditions

There are many peculiar and interesting traditions for welcoming the new year worldwide. In Scotland, the pre-evening of the new year is called Hogmanay, and just after midnight, it’s a popular custom to visit friends and neighbors for “First Foot,” bringing the first person entering the house a gift, signifying good luck. In Spain, at the stroke of midnight on December 31, it is a tradition to eat 12 grapes. Each grape eaten with the chime of the clock is believed to bring good luck for each month of the upcoming year. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, and some other Central and South American countries, people wear special underwear of different colors on New Year’s Eve. Red is considered good for bringing love, while yellow is believed to bring wealth.

Moving on from the Old and Into the New

The new year is the ideal moment to implement constructive adjustments. The tradition of making resolutions is more common in the Western hemisphere but is present in the Eastern hemisphere as well. In this tradition, a person commits to changing an unwanted habit or behavior or setting personal goals. New year resolutions can range from quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more, being more organized, or laughing more – but in reality, a resolution for the new year can be anything. However, research suggests that many new year resolutions end up unsuccessful. Being realistic about your goals and not overwhelming yourself with too many resolutions can help you achieve success in the coming year.

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