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New Year’s Eve
31 December 2022
New Year’s Eve, December 31, is a major celebration in the USA. Although New Year’s Day is a federal holiday, New Year’s Eve is not, so most businesses will operate holiday working hours. However, in a few states such as Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it is a day off.
Families and friends travel to be together or to go to significant outside celebration spots, like New York, in order to welcome the new year together. Due to this, there can be congestion and closed roads, so check in advance before making any journey.
Traditionally, New Year’s Eve is a time for parties, fireworks, and merry-making. People count down the last 10 seconds to midnight, the start of the new year. They toast the new year with a glass of champagne, kiss a loved one (under the mistletoe), and wish everyone a loud “Happy New Year!” People sing Auld Lang Syne, an old Scottish song, which bids farewell to days gone by.
New York is the main site, with nearly one million people going to Times Square, Manhattan, to attend. There are music and fireworks, but no alcohol is allowed. At midnight, there is also a run in Central Park. Other major cities and places, such as Las Vegas, Disney World, Orlando, hold “first-night” activities, with or without alcohol, with costume parties, etc.
The earliest record of New Year celebrations was from the Mesopotamians, around 4,000 years ago. They believed that their god, Marduk, brought order to the havoc caused by Tiamat, the goddess of chaos. To commemorate this, every year, when the rains came around the vernal equinox, they would cause chaos themselves by engaging in illicit sexual relations, drinking, and allowing slaves to insult their masters. They would perform mummers’ plays and fertility rites. The king secluded himself for days, as he represented order.
In the Mesopotamian city of Babylon, they used as much noise as possible to chase the “demons of chaos” out of their city at the beginning of the year. They would also divine the future, the “fixing of the fates” for the following year.
Many European countries had mid-winter feasting. In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar made the first day of the year, January 1 according to his new calendar, a time for honoring Janus, the god of gateways and beginnings and endings. Janus had two faces on opposite sides, seeing the past and future. During the holiday, people indulged in excesses in food and drink, adultery, orgies, and so on. It was said that if you greeted January 1 with fun and laughter, you would be happy for the entire year.