If you could spend New Year’s Eve anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to visit Times Square on New Year’s Eve, even though it would be far too cold for me especially since I am someone who is used to Christmas in summer and who has never seen snow. But just to experience it once would be an amazing achievement, but in the meantime I’ll have to settle for watching the celebration on the television and leaving the actual attendance to the locals.
In my legal translation work I’ve been privileged to work with a wide array of people from around the world, so I know that there’s no one way to celebrate the New Year – I have my choice of celebrations. And in this modern age I have the technology to be able to experience whatever New Year’s Eve celebration I want.
I'm proud to say that Australia boasts some pretty world-class New Year’s Eve celebrations. The fireworks displays in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney – every major city in the country – are no less than spectacular. The Family Fireworks and Midnight Fireworks centred around the Harbour Bridge in Sydney are particular favourites, and are watched on televisions around the world.
Here’s a fun fact: In Israel, where New Year’s Eve is not an official holiday because they follow the Jewish calendar, where Rosh Hashana usually falls in September or October, New Year’s Eve in December is called Sylvester and everyone throws Sylvester parties! As a Word Nerd I couldn’t let this go by uninvestigated: Sylvester is one strange name for a New Year’s Eve holiday.
Turns out, Sylvester is drawn from the Christian Saint Sylvester, who was a (mercilessly anti-Semitic) pope in the early church. His saint day is December 31st, so secular Jews seeking to celebrate the New Year with the rest of the world took the saint’s Name Day and made it into their New Year’s Eve. The fact that he was a pope known for oppressing the Jews in ancient Rome adds a nice dash of irony, I think.
New Year’s Eve is a treasure trove of traditions and cultural trivia – if you have a love of words like I do, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy when looking into the New Year’s Eve traditions around the world. Happy New Year to all!