There is no correct way to celebrate New Year's Eve, and the best activity for the evening largely depends on personal preference. Most people in the United States either attend a party or stay in with close friends and family.
Unlike the Easter ham or Thanksgiving turkey, there is no one meal that has strong ties with New Year's Day. There are a number of foods, many with roots in other cultures, that are consumed on or around New Year's Day that are said to bring good luck to the person who eats them.
Some family celebration ideas for New Year's Eve include staying home to celebrate, preparing an extra-special meal or attending a family-oriented neighborhood celebration. Since babysitters are scarce, involve small children in the festivities by dressing them up and celebrating early instead of at midnight with sparkling cider and noisemakers.
The oldest known New Year's resolutions date back to the Babylonian festival of Akitu, which occurred around 2000 B.C. Since then, individuals and groups from various cultures have resolved to renew allegiances or set new goals each New Year, according to Purch.
As of 2014, the biggest New Year celebration in the world is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On New Year's Eve, about 2 million residents gather on Copacabana Beach to celebrate.
The first ball drop in New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve took place in 1907. The tradition of celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square actually began a few years earlier in 1904.
The festivities celebrating the Chinese New Year, which marks the beginning of the Chinese calendar, can last for approximately 15 days. The Chinese New Year celebration is also known as the "Spring Festival" or the "Lunar New Year" and is the most important festival within the Chinese culture.
The first baby born on New Year's Day gets a lot of media attention. The hospital or city where the baby is born may also give the parents a prize, ranging from a gift basket to a college scholarship.
In many Southern states, consuming black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck. The black-eyed peas are usually part of a meal that includes pork, cornbread and often collard greens.
The Chinese New Year begins at the end of the last month of the Chinese calendar, a date that varies every year according to the lunar calendar. The date is typically between mid-January and mid-February on the Gregorian calendar.
While there are many Chinese New Year traditions, the most common and well known are the fireworks displays that are kicked off the evening before New Year's Day. These firework displays are said to be an homage to the noise, bright red colors and lights used to drive away the mythical beast Nien.
Planning a New Year's Eve party can involve preparing the setting, the food, the drinks and possibly a game or two for guests, depending on the type of party and how many people will be attending. It is important to send invitations out to guests as early as possible to ensure that they won't RSVP to another party.
The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball begins to drop at 11:59 p.m. on December 31 and completes its course exactly at 12 a.m. on January 1. If viewing the event on television, a person might see the drop at another time, depending on what time zone the program is based off of.
The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first countries to celebrate the new year. This is due to their position immediately west of the International Date Line, which determines the start and end of the time zone cycle. Hawaii is among the last to celebrate the new year.
You can celebrate a Japanese New Year by feasting on traditional dishes, giving gifts of money to children and visiting a Japanese shrine or temple. One popular part of the Japanese New Year is otoshidama, which is the custom of gifting children money in decorative envelopes.
The phrase "have a happy new year" is a common expression used to wish others happiness, prosperity and success in the coming year. The term is commonly heard during the final week of December and the first weeks of January.
Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, which occurs sometime between late January and February. The use of the lunar calendar means Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year.
There is no specific attire called for on New Year's Day in the United States. New Year's Day often involves getting together for a meal with family and friends, but the attire worn can be anything from casual to formal, depending on where the meal is being held and the type. Potluck gatherings will be much more informal than dinner at a five-star restaurant.
Children can celebrate the Chinese New Year by making crafts such as red candles, Chinese paper cuts and Chinese firecrackers. Firecrackers were traditionally set off at the Chinese New Year to warn away the man-eating monster Nian. Lanterns can be made for the fifteenth and final day of the New Year, the Lantern Festival.
New Year's Eve offers a variety of popular colors that are meant to represent fortune, luck and love, such as gold, green and red. In some countries, wearing a particular color is said to bring luck, love or fortune while other countries partake in certain foods to bring good luck in the new year.
New Year's Eve is not a bank holiday in the United States. New Year's Day, is considered a bank holiday, along with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.