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Out with the old, bring in the new! Let’s celebrate! At the stroke of the midnight hour...A new year is ushered in around the world! New Year's Eve. also known as Old Year's Day or Saint Sylvester's Day in many countries, is on 31 December which is the seventh day of Christmastide. Typically, around the globe, New Year's Eve is celebrated at social gatherings in the evening, where friends, families and neighbours party in their own homes or at public venues, watch or light fireworks to bring in the New Year. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year's Day, 1 January. Samoa, Tonga and Kiritimati (Christmas Island), part of Kiribati, are the first places to welcome the New Year while American Samoa and Baker Island in the US are among the last. So, how do people, far and near, bring in the New Year?
The Japanese eat a selection of dishes during New Year’s Eve celebrations called osechi-ryōri . Many of these are sweet, sour, or dried, so they can keep without refrigeration—a culinary tradition that dates back to a time before households had refrigerators, and most stores were closed for the holidays. Today, sashimi and sushi are also eaten, as well as non-Japanese foods. To give overworked stomachs a break, a seven-herb rice soup is prepared on the seventh day of January, a day known as jinjitsu.
The most well-known venue for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Australia is in Sydney. A multi-tiered event, it is centred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and surrounding Port Jackson. The main events are two pyrotechnic displays: the 9pm Family Fireworks and the Midnight Fireworks, both televised nationally with the more popular Midnight Fireworks televised globally, viewed by one billion people worldwide. Synchronised to a soundtrack of popular music, past and present, the fireworks explode off the arches, catwalk and roadway of the Harbour Bridge, and also includes the Opera House, nearby city buildings and up to eight barges on both sides of the bridge.
Thanks to the strong influence left behind by the British, the month of December in Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta or just Cal) is replete with music, food, drinks and parties. The City of Joy is a delight to be in on New Year’s Eve. All over the city, buildings and roads are bejewelled with lights and the atmosphere brims over with the magic of celebrations. Portly Santas come alive in the New Market, or Hoggs Market as it was originally called; and Park Street is lit up as people of all ages bring in the New Year with zeal, and the nightclubs come alive with vibrant, foot tapping music playing throughout the night.
Bangalore, the Garden City!
The IT hub of India is not only famous for being India’s Silicon Valley but also plays host to some mind blowing celebrations. With house parties, stadium concerts, fine restaurants and lush gardens, Bangalore brims over with New Year madness. You can even go camping and trekking to nearby nature reserves to experience a different kind of celebration.
Mumbai (or Bombay as it’s still called by old timers!)
Mumbai is one of the best cities to bring in the New Year. The city gets all lit up with festivities, and party animals take over the dance floors in homes, big and small, and at plush venues across the length and breadth of the island . If lounges and discos leave you cold, then you can celebrate the New Year on the beach or nearby nature resorts. Drinks, food and big name celebrity performances set Mumbai apart from other places. You can also watch the fireworks on Marine Drive and have the time of your life.
Delhi – dur nahi hai!
The heart of India is one of the wildest places to celebrate the advent of the New Year. Pubs, clubs, hotels - all sway and sashay to party music. Delhi boasts of the most expensive and elite parties in the country. The most popular DJs and singers with the craziest fan following, light up the city and welcome in the New Year. If you want to try something different then spend your New Year’s Eve at India Gate, where people gather to collectively bid farewell to the year going by.
London: United Kingdom
The biggest and most notable New Year's Eve celebration in England takes place in Central London, where midnight is greeted with the chimes of Big Ben. A major fireworks display is held, with fireworks being launched from the London Eye Ferris wheel. The celebrations continue in London, with the New Year's Day Parade, held annually since 1987. The 2011 parade involved more than 10,000 musicians, cheerleaders and performers!
Parties are common in Germany on New Year's Eve. Fireworks are very popular, with individuals and at large municipal displays. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year's Eve celebrations in all of Europe, attended by over a million people, with the focal point being the Brandenburg Gate, where the midnight fireworks take place. Germans toast in the New Year with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne. Molybdomancy (Bleigießen) is another German New Year's Eve tradition – this involves telling fortunes by the shapes made by molten lead dropped into cold water. Other actions considered to be auspicious are to touch a chimney sweep or rub some ash on one’s forehead for good luck and health. Finally, a tiny marzipan pig is eaten for even more good luck.
New York: USA
First held on December 31, 1907, to welcome 1908, the ball drop has been held annually since, except in 1942 and 1943 because of wartime black outs. The Times Square Ball is located in New York City's Times Square, on the roof of One Times Square. Initially constructed from wood and iron, and lit up with 100 incandescent light bulbs, the ball's design has been updated over the years to reflect advances in lighting technology. The current ball features a computerized LED lighting system and an outer surface consisting of triangular crystal panels. These panels contain inscriptions representing annual themes.
The ball is a prominent and very significant part of New Year's Eve celebrations in New York City. Generally referred to as the ball drop, the ball descends, down a specially designed flagpole, 141 feet (43 m) in 60 seconds, beginning at 11:59:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (ET), coming to rest at midnight to signal the start of the New Year. The celebrations are preceded by live entertainment, including performances by Grammy winning musicians, popular stand-up comedians and well known late night TV hosts.