Countdown to New Year’s Eve

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An overview of how New Year’s Eve celebrations have evolved over time and the extravagance associated with it in modern times.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

The start of the New Year has been celebrated for centuries in many different ways and on many different dates. January 1st was declared as the first day of the year in 46 BC by Julius Caesar in honor of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, who is said to have had two faces, allowing him to look back into the past and forward into the future.  This is still very relevant in modern times as the New Year opens the door for reflection on the year that has passed and the plans for making resolutions and setting goals to achieve new heights. The Romans celebrated New Year’s Day by exchanging gifts and throwing parties.

The same is still true, albeit, the parties of this era have taken on a more extravagant approach. For many people these days, New Year’s Eve parties represent one’s social status as they are willing to spend thousands to attend what they believe to be the most happening scene.

It is not only the people who go out of their way for just one night, but countries spend millions on fireworks and all kinds of festivities to mark this occasion. In New York City in 1904, 200,000 people gathered at Time Square to watch the fireworks display, and in 1907, the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop was introduced and this has become a massive event that takes place year after year. Such celebrations take place in other cities around the world as well, at varying sizes, and Dubai with its ever-growing stature has inevitably joined the ranks for the past several years, breaking records and making headlines year after year. These cities are spending millions on New Year’s Eve celebrations and it is a major boost to the economy and tourism in particular.

However, with all these increasingly lavish ways of celebrating, I believe the real essence of New Year’s Eve can get lost in all its hype and glamour. People spend weeks deliberating on their new year’s eve plans, spend a fortune, and perhaps even talk about setting some resolutions, but in most cases, when morning comes, and the hype is over, these resolutions also get lost somewhere along the way.

It is, therefore, important that one does not lose sight of this and get carried away with having just one extravagant night, but rather appreciating that we have been given one more chance to live, to be surrounded by the ones we love, no matter how simple or grand the setting is. It is about looking at what we have achieved and how much more we can give to make a difference in this world. Let New Year’s Eve be a night of reflection and gratitude for all that has taken place over the year, and open up your hearts to all the new adventures that are yet to come.


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