Samoa and parts of Kiribati are the first places to welcome the New Year while Baker Island, in the United States, is among the last. The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years. Julius Caesar, the emperor of Rome, was the first to declare Jan. 1 a national holiday. He named the month after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates.
New Year’s Eve is traditionally the busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where the parks stay open late and the usual nightly fireworks show are supplemented by an additional New Year’s Eve-specific show at midnight.
In the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Eve (also known as Old Year’s Day or Saint Sylvester’s Day in many countries), the last day of the year, is on December 31. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some people attend a watch night service. Americans drink close to 360 million glasses of sparkling wine during this time. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (New Year’s Day).
In the United States, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with formal parties, family-oriented activities, and other large public events. According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, vehicles are stolen on New Year’s Day more than any other holiday.
One of the most prominent celebrations in the country is the "ball drop" held in New York City’s Times Square. Inspired by the time balls that were formally used as a time signal, at 11:59 p.m. ET, an 11,875-pound (5,386 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) diameter Waterford crystal ball located on the roof of One Times Square is lowered down a pole that is 70 feet high, reaching the roof of the building 60 seconds later to signal the start of the New Year. The Ball Drop has been held since 1907, and in recent years has averaged around a million spectators annually. The popularity of the spectacle also inspired similar "drop" events outside of New York City, which often use objects that represent a region’s culture, geography, or history—such as Atlanta’s "Peach Drop", representing Georgia’s identity as the "Peach State", or Nashville’s "Music Note Drop".
Another American tradition is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The first parade was held in 1886. The Tournament of Roses parade that precedes the football game on New Year’s day is made up of elaborate and inventive floats.
A traditional southern New Year’s dish is Hoppin’ John—black eyed peas and ham hocks. An old saying goes, "Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year."