Here in the United States, New Year’s Eve usually includes a nice meal and some celebrating as the clock counts down to midnight. People go to parties, light off fireworks, and typically toast the arrival of the New Year with a flute of champagne, as long as they’re over 21, of course. There are a number of different traditions and facts that involve New Year’s Eve around the globe. Here are ten interesting ones.
1) People celebrating in Times Square wear adult diapers on New Year’s Eve.
New York City’s Times Square, where the glass ball has been dropping every year at midnight since 1907, draws in thousands of participants. So many, in fact, that some are stuck in place for hours. Moving might mean losing their place close to the festivities, and if they could get to a porta-potty, the lines are very long. This means that some adults come prepared to spend hours in the cold, and wear adult diapers to prevent any incidents.
2) Ethiopia celebrates the New Year every September 11th.
Most countries around the world accepted the Gregorian calendar back in the 1700s. Ethiopia is one of the few that hasn’t. They remain on the Julian calendar, which means that their New Year falls in September. It also means that they are in a different year – it’s 2010 there. The Ethiopian New Year’s celebration, known as Enkutatash, involves eating wat, a traditional stew, along with injera, a type of flat bread made from organic flour. They also exchange gifts, sing songs, and present their friends with bouquets of flowers.
3) Japan’s traditional New Year’s tune is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
During World War I, German Prisoners of War (POWs) introduced their Japanese captors to the song. Some of the POWs formed a band, dubbed the Bando Orchestra, and played the song for them. It caught on. Every New Year’s Eve in Japan there are at least 50 performances of the song taking place throughout the country. They refer to it there as “Big Nine” and “Daiku.”
4) Grandfather Frost gave out New Year’s presents in Soviet Russia.
During the heyday of the Soviet Union, Christmas – and all other religious holidays – were banned. So was Santa Claus. Santa morphed in Grandfather Frost, who passed out gifts on New Year’s Eve instead of on December 25th. Grandfather Frost looked kind of like Santa, only he was taller, had a straight white beard instead of a curly one, and a blue fur coat and felt boots. Of course, Grandfather Frost also made you work a little for your gifts, he didn’t just hand them out.
5) In some Asian countries you might age two years over New Year’s Eve.
Some Asian countries, like North Korea, consider a child to be one year old the moment they’re born. After all, that’s the first year that child is alive. They don’t start at zero and progress forward like in some other countries. Whenever the next calendar year comes around, they get one year older, no matter how many months or days have passed. This means that if a child is born on December 31st, they’re one year old for a few hours, then officially two years old when the clock strikes midnight. This is called East Asian Age Reckoning.
6) New Year’s Eve is the best time to visit Antarctica.
If you’ve ever wanted to go to Antarctica, make sure to go on New Year’s Eve. This is when IceStock – also known as Roek Fest – takes place every year. People congregate at McMurdo Station on Ross Island to take in live performances that rival anything seen at Woodstock. Although the temperatures are subzero, the music certainly isn’t. Many local bands and performers from all genres come out and play for the crowd.
7) Thailand celebrates their New Year’s Eve with a state-sponsored water fight.
Although Thailand doesn’t celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31st, they do enjoy quite a bit of celebrating when their New Year rolls around. Since the country uses a lunar calendar, their New Year falls in the month of April. They celebrate the holiday, called Songkran, for two days. The festivities include a state-sponsored water fight, bringing small bags of sand to Buddhist temples, and throwing white talc at one another.
8) Before 1753, Great Britain and the U.S. Colonies used to hold New Year’s Eve on March 25th.
March 25th, also known as Anunciation Day, was the beginning of the year based on the old Julian calendar system. In 1753, the system switched to the Gregorian calendar, which we still follow to this day. On top of this, in order to make the new calendar system work properly, the year 1752 had to be shortened. The year was only nine months long and lasted from March 25 to January 1, although some days that September – the third through the 13th – were skipped as well.
9) People in the Chumbivilcas Province of Peru start off their New Year with a clean slate.
Takanakuy is the official name of the New Year’s celebration in the Chumbivilcas area of Peru. The people who live there kick off the festivities on Christmas and continue through New Year’s Eve, when all of their problems are seemingly resolved. How do they work through their problems? With their fists. Yes, fist fights to solve grudges occur between friends, neighbors, family members, and anyone else who may have an issue with someone. Once the fighting is over, dancing and drinking becomes the norm as they head into the New Year without being mad at their fellow citizens.
10) Brasstown, North Carolina doesn’t drop a lighted ball on New Year’s Eve – they drop a possum.
In a celebratory practice known as the “possum drop” the people living in Brasstown, North Carolina carefully lower a live opossum from the top of roof of Clay’s Corner Convenience store. He isn’t completely dropped, as they don’t want to hurt him. The “possum drop” is just a part of a New Year’s Eve festival that includes a woman being named Possum Queen, as well as plenty of music and food.