1 England didn’t adopt January 1 as New Year’s Day until 1752, more than 150 years after Scotland. Before that the year began on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.
2 The first French Republic changed its calendar in 1793, fixing New Year at the autumnal equinox. Thirteen years later, Napoleon reinstated the Gregorian calendar now in general use.
3 Over a quarter of the globe’s population celebrate the Chinese or lunar new year. The Year of the Rabbit will begin on February 16. This is a time to repay debts, make sacrifices to gods, and distribute ‘lucky money’.
4 The ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Romans all celebrated New Year on different days. Even within western Christianity, the day has drifted, with Christmas Day, Easter Day and March 1 and 25 all popular. Because the festival was linked to the pagan event of Saturnalia, early Christians called for the New Year to be marked by prayer, fasting and ‘humiliation’.
5 The most emotional New Year’s Eve party is at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where hundreds of thousands toast the reunification of Germany.
6 In Papua New Guinea, villagers mark the New Year by banging drums and burning bamboo sticks.
7 In Islamic countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, partying will be subdued during Ramadan. Israel, meanwhile, observes the western New Year, but there is a Jewish New Year in September.
8 India, which is 82 per cent Hindu, opts for the international New Year on January 1. Tamil, Sikh and Punjabi New Years are independent celebrations on different dates. And Nepal will celebrate between April 17 and 18.
9Thailand will hold unofficial celebrations on January 1. The ‘formal’ celebrations in April feature a national water fight.
10 Ethiopia won’t celebrate New Year until September 11. The country has stuck to the old Julian calendar, which fails to reflect the true length of the year.