ne-third of the world's population doesn't do anything special on January 1 because they don't think of it as New Year's Day. They follow their own solar, lunar or other hybrid calendars as opposed to the Gregorian calendar. That includes China, India, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries, both Koreas, technically Japan (two different celebrations) and many Southeast Asian countries.
§January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only about 400 years. The earliest record of New Year’s observance comes from Mesopotamia circa 2000 B.C., but that was
celebrated around the vernal equinox in mid-March. The Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox. The Greeks celebrated on the winter solstice.
Paris, Travel Triangle
§ The first time New Year’s was ever celebrated on January 1 was in 153 B.C. in Rome. The month of January didn't even exist until around 700 B.C.
§ In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar. At the time, Europe adhered to the Julian calendar implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. The Roman system miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes, and had fallen out of sync with the seasons over time. Which meant that Easter, traditionally observed on March 21, was falling farther away from the spring equinox each year, a situation unacceptable to the Church.
§ Even the Gregorian calendar is off by 26 seconds and by the year 4909 should be a full day ahead of the solar year.
New York, Time Out
§ Catholic countries, including Spain, Portugal and Italy, swiftly adopted the Gregorian calendar. European Protestants, however, largely rejected it, fearing it was a Catholic plot against them. Protestant Germany switched over in 1700. England in 1752. In Orthodox countries the national churches have never embraced Gregory’s reforms.
§ The Pacific island of Tonga is the first place to ring in the New Year, at 10am GMT on December 31. Howland and Baker Islands are the last, at 12pm GMT on January 1. But they are uninhabited. Second to last is American Samoa at 11am GMT. It is 558 miles from Tonga, so theoretically you could catch a quick flight between those two locations and count down to 2021 twice. But local Samoans and visitors are more inclined to stay put and just start celebrating a full 25 hours before.
§ The largest (and possibly wildest) New Year's party site would be Rio de Janeiro, where Copacabana Beach plays host to more than 2 million cariocas (Rio natives) who congregate on the beach wearing stark white attire. They fill a 2 1/2-mile stretch of sand. Other happening venues include New York City (Times Square), Las Vegas (fireworks over the Strip), London (fireworks above the Thames waterfront), Paris (fireworks over—and through— the framework of The Eiffel Tower), Madrid (Puerta del Sol plaza) and Sydney, Australia (fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Japan probably as well (both times).
Twelfth Annual Skelly Family Christmas Video