New Year’s Day: Gifts and Celebration History


New Year’s Day falls on January 1, this marks the beginning of the year and the end of the previous one.  Celebrations and festivities do begin on New Year’s Eve which is on December 31st.  Traditions differ from one country to the other but most people from all over the globe do celebrate the New Year by making resolutions for the New Year, cooking special food for family gatherings and watching fireworks or pyrotechnic displays.

What Do People Do?

The whole world do celebrate the coming of the New Year in style and in grand celebrations.  In the United States, the dropping of the giant ball in New York City’s Time Square at the stroke of midnight is the much awaited event for the Americans and people from different parts of the globe do gather here just to witness this iconic event every year.  This tradition has started since 1907 and over time, the other cities and town in America also made their own versions of the Times Square ball drop.  Americans do share kisses as they express their New Year’s greetings since it is believed that a kiss can purify the new beginning because it wades off the evil spirits.

In other countries, the New Year is also celebrated in a festive way with dance parties, food, fireworks and more traditions.  For instance, when it comes to serving food the people from Southern United States believe that black eyed peas are very lucky to serve and eat since it resembles coins.  People from Italy believe the same thing that’s why they also serve lentils because it is a symbol of a successful financial status.  People from Norway and Sweden do serve rice pudding with hidden almond on New Year’s Eve and believes that the one who will find the hidden almond would be having a good fortune ahead.   In other countries like Portugal, Hungary, Cuba, and Austria pork is always part of the New Year’s feast since it symbolizes prosperity.  In Spain, a dozen of grapes is always present on the New Year’s table since it symbolizes hope and progress.  In Greece, Netherlands and Mexico, ring shaped pastries are never forgotten on the New Year’s bounty since it symbolizes the year has come in full circle.

Background About the New Year’s Day

Romulus, the founder of Rome in the eight century BC created the early Roman calendar with each year beginning at the vernal equinox.  This falls on a day in late March wherein there is equal amount of darkness and light which marks the start of a new year.  A festival marks the occasion which is called Akitu which involves eleven days of rituals.  King Numa Pompilius added the months Januarius and Februarius in this Roman calendar.  The Roman calendar often fell out of sync with the sun which made Julius Caesar to solve the problem in 46 BC.  He made the Julian calendar which is similar to our current Gregorian calendar.

Caesar made January 1 as the first day of the year to honor Janus who is the Roman god of beginnings.  Through the years, Christian leaders changed the first day of the year with days which have more religious significance such as December 25 (Christmas) and March 25 (Feast of Annunciation) but in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reinstated January 1 as the mark of the New Year.

What Kinds of Gifts Should I Give My Family and Friends on New Year’s Day?

  • The New Year is often symbolized by a baby dressed in a diaper with a sash which bears the printed year. With this you can often see funny shirts, caps and pins with baby designs as a symbol of the New Year.
  • Fireworks are often used to celebrate the coming year. Chinese people believes that the use of fireworks or pyrotechnics drives away bad spirits and negativity from the old year.  So if you are into doing some evil spirit wading at your backyard then you can gift your family and friends some fireworks, just make sure to practice safety precautions.  Fireworks do emit loud noises and some do prefer to use horns and the use of party music on full volume to drive away the bad spirits and to celebrate as well.  With this you can gift your friends and family some tracks to keep the dance floor alive too.
  • Food that are believed to increase chances of having good luck for the New Year are great gift ideas too such as ring shaped cakes, round fruits, sticky starch cakes for a closer family ties according to the Chinese and pork dishes for a progressive financial future. You can also give a New Year’s gift basket as a token of appreciation.
  • Parties are common in the New Year’s celebration.  You can have a party on style by having 2017 straw decors,  celebration balloons, party glasses, 2017 top hats and resolution party hats.
  • Round and stripe designs on shirt and dress symbolizes abundance of money for the coming year and with this, you can also gift some shirts and dresses with circles and stripes.
  • 2017 is the year of the rooster. You can gift your friends and loved ones some gift items with a rooster as the main design.  Check out the cool rooster gift ideas below for your reference:
    • Rooster Necklace
    • Rooster Earrings
    • Rooster T shirt
    • Knitted Rooster Plush
    • Rooster Rolling Pin
    • Rooster Figurine
    • Rooster Kitchen Towel



About the Author

Kit K

Kit Kalagayan is a content writer for many blogs and websites. He runs Gift Canyon and does most of the content and administrative work.



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