At 10am on New Year’s Eve you may be doing all sorts of things. Perhaps you’ll be prepping pastry for the canapes or going for a wintry walk with the dog, but the people of Tonga will be celebrating. The small island in the Pacific will be the first to ring in 2019 and 25 hours later, at 11am on January 1st, American Samoa will be the last to welcome the New Year.
Just after midnight (10am GMT) in Tonga, it’s traditional for people to set off in search of their loved ones. It’s seen as good luck to be the first to greet your relatives in the New Year and ‘uma’ or kiss. Not so different to the hype around kissing at midnight in the UK.
While fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic sight all over the world, Australia doesn’t see in the New Year all together. In fact, the country is home to five different time zones, with the exact moment ranging from 1pm to 3.15pm in GMT terms depending on where in Oz you are.
By 4pm, the New Year has reached Singapore, where they carry out the practice of Chun Jei. It involves focusing on positive hopes for the coming 12 months and letting go of negativity and past failings. It’s definitely a new year, new you approach for the Singaporeans. Be like them and remember to get rid of the bad stuff from 2018 as you’re making your New Year’s resolutions.
It will be 6.15pm by the time 2019 gets to Nepal, but it’s not such a big deal for the country. There are no fewer than seven different New Years celebrated throughout the calendar, all associated with individual ethnic groups.
The thing to do at midnight (9pm GMT) on December 31st in Russia is to burn a piece of paper containing your wishes for the coming year and drop the ashes into your glass of champagne. It is said that if you drink this concoction your dreams will come true. Tasty – or maybe not?
New Year in Germany, which arrives at 11pm, is known as Silvester, named after a Pope that died on December 31st 335AD. Germans melt a small piece of lead or tin on a spoon with a candle flame and then drop it into cold water. The shapes that form are supposed to act as predictions for the year to come.
Between 2am and 3am, the clocks strike midnight in Brazil and people at the beach pay respect to Yemanja, the goddess of the seas. In return for good luck in 2019, you’ll see revellers jumping over seven waves and making seven wishes. They’ll also dress in white and throw flowers into the sea.
As everyone in the UK starts to crawl to bed, the main events are getting underway in the USA and Canada from 3.30am to 8am. In Times Square, all eyes are on the ball that drops at midnight. Covered in crystals and weighing 11,875 pounds, it’s a more elaborate affair than the original wood and iron ball that fell for the first time on New Year’s Eve 1907.
American Samoa has to wait the longest to see in 2019 and its residents have even more reason to be cheesed off, as neighbouring Samoa gets to celebrate more than a day earlier. A change to the international date line a few years ago means the two countries are now 25 hours apart.