Which Country Is the First to Celebrate New Years?

On December 31, the world welcomes the New Year when the clock strikes 12 in the night, a number of countries will be celebrating the New Year first, before other nations. These countries are the small Pacific island nations of Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati/Christmas Island.

Surprisingly, these countries have already ushered in the New Year. Their year begins at 3:30 PM IST on Tuesday. New Zealand follows next in celebrating the New Year, followed by Australia, Japan, and South Korea, while the last place to celebrate New Year is Bakers Island which lies in central Pacific Ocean. The last countries to ring in 2020 will be the tiny outlying island of the US, Baker, and Howland, which will enter the New Year at 5:30 IST on January 1. However, the island is uninhabited. Therefore, the second last country to ring in the new year will be American Samoa, where the New Year will be celebrated at 4:30 pm IST on Wednesday.

The New Year was first celebrated on January 1st in 153 BCE in Rome by the civil Roman calendar, which marked the beginning of tenure for new Roman consuls. However, the celebration was not strictly adhered to as many Romans still celebrated their new year on March 1st. In 46 BCE Julius Caesar started using a solar-based calendar which maintained January 1st as the New Year day and was widely observed in the Roman Empire. In medieval Europe, January 1st as the New Year was briefly abolished as it was considered a pagan holiday. January 1st was later restored as the New Year following the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582.