Most of us give little thought as to why we ceremoniously say goodbye to one year and hello to a new one on December 31. Even those who don’t make unique plans to greet the arrival of a new year at midnight on December 31 pay homage to the rite with thoughts of the year gone by and hopes for the year to come. Why do we end each year on December 31 and begin a new one on January 1?
When is New Year's Eve 2022?
New Year’s Eve is on December 31, the last day of the year. There are a lot of mixed feelings on this day — it allows us to reflect on the past year with all its highs and lows, but we also get ready to party our way into the New Year. So here’s to a new day, new year, and new beginnings!
History of New Year's Eve
New Year’s Eve on December 31 marks the final day of what is known as a Gregorian calendar year. Before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar as the global standard, most of the ancient world ran on many different and diverse calendaring systems to track the passage of time.
The Gregorian calendar we use today was introduced by the Vatican in Rome under Pope Gregory XIII in October 1582. The Gregorian calendar is based on the solar year and replaced an ancient Roman calendar based on the lunar cycle of the Earth’s moon. The Gregorian calendar is a modified version of the Julian calendar that was introduced by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar during his reign around 44 B.C., at the suggestion of Greek astronomer and mathematician Sosigenes of Alexandria.
The transition from a lunar cycle calendar to a solar year calendar on October 4, 1582, necessitated that a few days be eliminated. The day after October 4, 1582, was therefore declared by Pope Gregory to be October 15, 1582. So please don’t ask us what happened to all the poor souls whose birthdays were on October 5 to 14.
Along with implementing a new calendar on October 4, 1582, the pope decreed that each year would officially begin on January 1 instead of April 1, as had been the custom under the old lunar calendar system. This decision had no actual astronomical basis and was influenced by the ancient feast celebrating the Roman god Janus, the god of doorways and beginnings. January 1 seemed like a good starting-over point on a new calendar.
New Year's Eve Timeline
Dick Clark Hosts New Year’s Rockin’ Eve
Clark continues to host New Year’s Rockin’ Eve until 2004, when he suffers a stroke.
Return of the Clark
Dick Clark returns to co-host New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Clark and Seacrest Eve
The annual Times Square New Year’s Eve event is officially changed to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Dick Clark’s Last New Year’s Eve Appearance
In April 2012, Dick Clark sadly passed away.
New Year's Eve Around The World
New Year’s Eve is widely celebrated by everyone who follows the Gregorian calendar, but not all people ring in the new year the same way or, in some cases, even on the same day.
New Year’s Eve Around the WorldCountryHolidayOccasionDate
Western Australia Aboriginal Mirador, The Aboriginal tribe of Mirador, based in Australia, celebrates their New Year on this day. October 30
Sri Lanka Sri Lankan New Year The Tamil Hindus and Sinhalese of Sri Lanka celebrate New Year’s with different rituals and customs. April 13
Cambodia Cambodian New Year Three days are dedicated in Cambodia to celebrating the New Year by visiting temples, playing cultural games, and holding purification ceremonies. April 13–15
China Chinese New Year The day on which the Chinese New Year falls depends on the Lunar calendar. The holiday is seven days long, with celebrations lasting two weeks. January 21 and February 20
India Gujarati New Year Diwali festivities occur according to the moon cycles. This ‘New Year’s celebration marks the beginning of harvest. Mid-October to mid-November
New Year's Eve Traditions
On New Year’s Eve, you either sigh relief that the year is over or marvel at how it went by in a flash. There are many ways in which people spend this day. Some people stay in and view New Year’s Eve fireworks on their television screens, while others head out and party the night away or enjoy the grand celebrations. Whichever side you are on, one thing is for sure — there is excitement in the air. There are some annual traditions that everyone is incredibly enthusiastic about, such as the grand celebration and Ball Drop at Times Square in New York, which officially heralds the New Year. And some traditions worldwide are believed to bring luck in the New Year, such as toasting a glass of champagne at midnight or eating 365 black-eyed peas for good luck on the first day of the New Year.
New Year's Eve By The Numbers
Eleven thousand eight hundred seventy-five pounds — the weight of Time Square’s ball.
360 million — the number of glasses of sparkling wine consumed each New Year’s Eve in the U.S.
41% — of Americans rank New Year’s Eve as their favorite holiday.
12% — the amount of Americans who fall asleep before midnight.
102.1 million — the number of people who travel to reach their New Year’s Eve destinations.
$1,160 — the average price for dinner and entertainment for two in New York City on this night.
365 — the number of black-eyed peas one should eat for luck in the new year.
2,688 — the amount of Waterford Crystal triangles that covered the Time’s Square ball in 2019.
1942 — the only year when Times Square remained dark on New Year’s Eve.
67% — the number of Americans who set resolutions on New Year’s Eve.
New Year's Eve Activities
- Head out to a First Night celebration
- Local First Night celebrations are family-friendly alternative New Year’s Eve community events that are alcohol and drug-free. Local bands, entertainers, artists, food vendors, schools, churches, and community groups participate in or sponsor First Nights, which are open to the public.
- Attend Watch Night Mass
- Many Christian churches hold a New Year’s Eve service for reflection on the year that has passed while preparing for the new year ahead. New Year’s Eve services are called Watch Night Mass in some denominations.
- Be the parents who stay home.
- Allow your kids to invite friends for a slumber party so they can stay up late and ring together in the New Year. You won’t get any sleep, but you will be very popular with the other parents, who will be free to enjoy an adult night out on New Year’s Eve.
5 Facts About New Year's Eve
- Traditional foods
- Some families traditionally eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Eve as it’s believed to bring good fortune.
- January is named after the god Janus, who has two faces — one looking forward to the future and one looking back to the past.
- A midnight kiss
- Kissing at midnight comes from old English and German folklore, saying the first person you come across in the new year could set the tone for the following year.
- Times Square
- The Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball was first dropped in 1907, weighing 700lbs.
- Ahh Real Monsters
- Firecrackers and noisemakers became a tradition to guarantee a year of good luck to scare away evil spirits.
Why We Love New Year's Eve
- Kisses at midnight
- Kissing your special loved ones at the stroke of midnight is said to bring an entire year of love and affection. Not kissing your loved ones at midnight means the opposite for the next 12 months. So pucker up, buttercup!
- Letting the old year out of the house
- Tradition has it that opening all the windows and doors at midnight allows the stale year out and the new year in. Sometimes you must sweep the old year out the front door if it refuses to leave. We’re not sure what that looks like, but we suggest you keep a broom handy.
- The end of Christmas
- An early Southern tradition is to spend New Year’s Eve undecorating the Christmas tree and tossing it out the door before midnight. No one is sure why, but some say leaving the tree brings terrible luck in the new year. We hear drinking spiked eggnog makes the chore a more palatable and fun way to spend New Year’s Eve.