Occasions 365

New Years Eve

Ringing in the New Year

The passing of one year and the beginning of the next is marked around the world by New Years Eve parties and celebrations. Unless you celebrate Chinese New Year, as this year winds down on December 31st, you'll find yourself in one of these places:

  • At a house party with friends – The favorite choice of many on New Year's Eve is to gather with close friends in someone's home. A New Year's Eve party is characterized by celebratory drinks, ample finger foods, upbeat music and well-dressed guests. If you are hosting the party, don't skimp on the decorations – lots of balloons, streamers, confetti, noisemakers and party hats, all in silver or gold.
  • At a bar or restaurant – Most food and drink establishments put on elaborate soirees for December 31st. Tickets are sold in advance, and usually include food, entertainment and party favors, but not drinks. If you want the glitz of a professionally hosted party, be sure to make plans early. The most popular events sell out fast.
  • In a public square – Most cities put on public events to ring in the New Year. Usually they are held outdoors in the city's biggest public square, hosted by the mayor and/or local media personalities. These parties usually feature live rock bands and fireworks displays. Join thousands of your neighbors at the biggest party of the year, but just don't forget to dress warmly.
  • At home with family – Whether you're staying in with your spouse, your kids or your parents, sometimes the best way to spend the last minutes of the year is with the people who mean most to you. Loud parties aren't for everyone; some prefer to make some popcorn, work a jigsaw puzzle and watch the festivities on television.

The most famous New Year's Eve celebration takes place in New York City. If you're watching a countdown on TV, you're probably one of the millions of people around the world watching the Waterford Crystal Ball drop over Times Square. December 31st, 2008 will see the debut of a spectacular new Ball, twice the size of the old one and lit by over 30,000 LEDs to create kaleidoscopic effects.

New Year's Eve Traditions

All over the country, at the stroke of twelve people are celebrating in much the same way. Whether they're out in public, at a house party with friends or at home with their spouse, certain traditions remain constant.

We count down the last ten seconds of the fading year. We cheer, make noise, kiss loved ones and drink champagne to toast the New Year as the clock strikes twelve. We sing "Auld Lang Syne," a song we all know, even if few of us know what it means.

Most importantly, we make New Year's resolutions, vowing to better ourselves in the coming year. Cynics may scoff, saying that these resolutions are forgotten as soon as they're made, but the sentiment remains noble. Taking a few moments in the wee hours of January 1st to reflect on our shortcomings and optimistically plan to overcome them is better than making no attempt at all. And sometimes, when we are ready for change, those resolutions do stick, some for a few months, some for a year, and some for a lifetime.

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