Which Countries Celebrate New Year’s Eve First and Last?

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The countries that celebrate New Year’s Eve first are Samoa and Christmas Island, which is also called Kiribati. Baker Island, Howard Island and other outlying U.S. islands celebrate the new year last.

The order in which countries celebrate the new year is determined by the International Date Line. The International Date Line is located at 180 degrees longitude and is situated on the exact opposite side of the earth as the Prime Meridian. The International Date Line divides the current day from the previous day. Countries located to the west of the International Date Line are a day behind countries situated to the east of the International Date Line.

New Year Start Dates Around the World

Across the world, there are 39 different time zones in use. From the first country to the last, it takes a total of 26 hours for all nations to ring in the new year. Based on their proximity to the International Date Line, the islands of Samoa and Kiribati are the first places in the world to welcome the new year. Within these islands, the cities of Kiritimati, Salelologa and Apia are the first cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s. Next to welcome the new year are the Chatham Islands and New Zealand. Parts of Russia celebrate the holiday next, followed by Australia in several stages, with the exception of Western Australia, which follows Japan, South Korea and four other countries. North Korea is the next location to welcome the new year, followed by many countries in Southeast Asia. Nepal, India and Pakistan follow in the chain of countries celebrating the start of the new year. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran and eight other countries follow.

Russia and 22 other countries start the new year 11 hours after Samoa and Kiribati. Greece and 31 other countries start the new year 12 hours after Samoa. The other countries that celebrate New Year’s within the first 24-hour time period are Argentina, parts of Brazil, Newfoundland, parts of Canada and 29 other countries, including countries in South America. Between midnight and 4:00 a.m. the next day, many parts of the United States celebrate the new year. French Polynesia, American Samoa and a number of outlying U.S. islands are the last places in the world to start the new year.

New Year’s Traditions and Customs

The new year is observed by countries around the world. While it is universally important to those countries, New Year’s is celebrated in many different ways. In China, for instance, the new year holiday is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Each year is represented by an animal, which is ascribed to that year based on the lunar calendar. The year 2016, for instance, was the Year of the Monkey. Chinese citizens begin preparing for the start of the new year seven days in advance by ridding their homes of evil spirits.

In Ecuador, people create cartoons called viejos to get rid of bad luck and grievances. Fireworks are then wrapped inside the cartoons, and the entire piece is lit on fire. Men dressed as widows of the viejos dance in the streets.

In Germany, much like the United States, New Year’s Eve is filled with fireworks, champagne and large, loud social gatherings. Food and family are a large part of the new year celebrations in both countries.