New Year's Day is the first day of a new year.
The old year ends at midnight and a new year begins.
There are fireworks when a new year starts.
Houses are cleaned to begin a new year.
People hope for good luck in the new year.
A celebration is a happy time when people get together in honour of something special.
Different religions or countries each have their own celebration or way of celebrating.
The beginning of a new year is celebrated in different ways in different countries, but not always on the same day because some calendars are different.
Many big cities have fireworks for the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, at midnight when the new year begins, the sky lights up with a beautiful fireworks show. The fireworks in Sydney and London are very famous.
In most countries, a year ends at midnight on 31st December and a new year begins on 1st January, but in some countries the day when a new year begins is decided by the full moon so it is a different day each year.
The lunar new year, generally called Chinese New Year, is celebrated in January or February most years. It is called the Lantern Festival. Red lanterns are lit for the festival, which lasts for 15 days. The most important times are New Year’s Day and the night before, which is New Year's Eve. There are different things to do on each of the days, such as cleaning the house, thanking the gods for a good year and praying for a good one next year, saying prayers for family members who have died. The 10th, 11th and 12th days are for feasting with friends and family, so on the 13th day very simple food is eaten. On New Year's Eve, there are parties and feasting. Next morning, people give each other red envelopes with money inside.
All through China and in Chinatowns all over the world, noisy fire crackers are lit all through New Year's Eve to scare away evil spirits. At the new year a long dragon dances through the streets: dragons are considered to bring good luck, so the longer the dragon, the more good luck will come in the new year. Many people hold up the dragon and make it move and dance while a small and noisy band follows.
In Vietnam, New Year is called Tet, and it is often on the same day as Chinese New Year. It is the biggest celebration of the year. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with special ornaments, and all bills are paid. Every day prayers are said. The first person to come into your house in the new year brings good luck.
On the first day of Tet people visit close friends, teachers and parents. On the second day they visit other relatives and friends who are not so close. On the third day they visit the family of their teacher and more distant relatives.
In Greece, 1st January is also Saint Basil’s day. He is a very important saint so there is a big celebration on this day. It is the main day for giving gifts because that is what Saint Basil did. There is special food on this day, but the most special is the Saint Basil cake called Vasilopita which has a gold or silver coin hidden inside for a lucky person to find. When the cake is cut, the most senior family member is given the first slice, then each family member in order of age.
In Scotland, new year is called Hogmanay (say hog-man-ay) and is a bigger celebration than Christmas. Houses are cleaned ready for the new year, and special foods are made. The first person to come into your house in the new year brings good luck for the year. On New Year’s Eve, people link arms and sing a special song called Auld Lang Syne.
In Thailand, the new year is called Songkran and lasts for 3 days in April. People throw water over each other, as a way of wishing for good rain in the next year. All the statues in the temples are washed. It brings you good luck if you set a bird free from its cage, or a return a fish to the river .