Podcast: New Year Celebrations in English Speaking Countries
We carry out traditions on the last day of the year to let go of the past and latch on to the future. Fireworks, champagne and parades are among the festive ways New Years is celebrated in English speaking countries. Many people enjoy welcoming in the New Year with family and friends, while others prefer a public celebration.
Watching the colorful, crystal ball drop in Times Square never gets old for the TV viewers who turn on their TV sets every December 31st. Since 1907, barring World War II years, New York City has hosted a massive party on Times Square. As many as 1 million people attend this party every year to enjoy musical performances, fireworks and party favors, although alcohol is forbidden. The culmination of the festivities is the midnight lowering of a ball from the Times Tower. The original 1907 ball was illuminated and made of wood and iron. The modern ball weighs 11,875 pounds (5.4 ton) and is covered in Waterford crystals that make it shine.
After counting down the seconds to midnight, many share a special New Year’s Eve kiss! The tradition stems from the belief that kissing someone at midnight will prevent loneliness during the coming year and ward off evil spirits!
Many cities and towns in the UK celebrate the coming New Year by putting on public firework displays. The city of London has one of the most famous ones. Thousands of people gather at the banks of the river Thames to see an almost 12-minute fireworks display over the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel. The pyrotechnics begin just after Big Ben chimes midnight and are accompanied by music. Since 2014, this has been a ticketed event.
The fireworks in London are followed by the London New Year's Day Parade, considered to be the largest New Year parade in the world. A 30-year old tradition, the parade began in 1987 as a way to raise money for local charities. Originally called the Lord Mayor of Westminster's Big Parade, the event was renamed in 1994.
Major Australian cities have special New Year’s Eve events that include parades, music and entertainment. Celebrities are often invited as guests of honor or hosts for large New Year’s Eve events. New Year’s Eve balls are popular and have various themes such as masquerade, black-tie and formal wear, tropical, or gangster and glamour. Prizes for the most intriguing or best-dressed outfits are awarded at these events. Many people also prepare their New Year’s resolutions for the next day.
Many Australians celebrate New Year’s Eve on boat cruises, urban parklands or beaches. Others hold special parties or barbecues at their own homes. Public countdowns to New Year's Day are made at large events in major cities, such as Sydney, and are often televised, so those at home can join in the celebrations. As the clock strikes midnight to mark New Year’s Day, fireworks are launched to farewell the old year and to welcome the new year. People often hug, shake hands or kiss each other on the cheek to show their joy and appreciation for the old and new year. Many people also toast their glasses and drink champagne or wine to commemorate this occasion.
Being summer during New Year’s Eve in New Zealand, it coincides with the festival season. Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne, North Island, is the biggest New Year’s festival by being in the first city in the world to see the New Year! International and national acts perform at this world-famous event.
Many of these costumes also happen in other countries and cities. What about in your city? How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Tell us in the comments below.
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Happy New Year!
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