Australians celebrate New Year with extraordinary finesse, exuberance and flamboyance. Various spectacular and bedazzling firework shows and other entertainment events are organized throughout the country on December 31. Today, most of the spirited people of Australia follow the Gregorian calendar, thus, marking January 1 as the first day of the year. However, this was not always the case; the Gregorian calendar was first brought to Australia by the early European settlers. Prior to this, the nation followed the Julian calendar, which was somewhat shorter than the solar year. The need for a new day and date calculation system arose as the old calendar became highly inaccurate with the change in the seasonal cycle.
When Pope Gregory XIII introduced Gregorian calendar on February 24, 1582, it was accepted by European nations, like Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy without delay. However, many nations, such as the Great Britain, incorporated it as late as in 1752. Till date, not all Australians observe New Year according to the Gregorian calendar. For instance, on July 1, the official tax year of the country begins. The large number of Asian community, settled here, celebrates the day as per their lunar calendar, which falls on the second or third new moon after the December Solstice, sometime between January 21 and February 20.
What really deserve a special mention, when discussing New Year in Australia, are the beliefs and practices that were followed by the aboriginal tribes, who dwelled here before the arrival of Europeans. These people used various natural techniques to decipher the passing of the seasons, like patterns of weather conditions and the life cycle of different plants. In case of the tribe of Crocodile Islands of Arnhem Land, they still identify the year with six seasons, which are an important part of life cycle and celebrate the New Year accordingly.
New Year Celebrations
In the contemporary times, New Year is ushered in grand style across Australia. This day has been declared a public holiday in the country, which greatly adds to the festive mood of the people. They come out of their houses and attend several zealous public as well as private New Year celebrations held at various beautiful beaches, discotheques, pubs, clubs and hotels, accompanied by their relatives as well as friends. Most of this vivacious revelry lasts for around six days. No wonder Australia has emerged as one of the best places around the world to celebrate New Year, as it offers visitors from all over the globe a golden chance to celebrate occasion in regal style.
Most of the traditionalists (Christians) begin the New Year with a visit to the church to offer prayers of gratitude to the Almighty and seek his blessings for the coming year. On New Year's Eve, with each strike of the clock, the church bell is rung, which signifies the traditional announcement of the New Year. On New Year's Eve, all of Australia is illuminated with several fantastic firework shows, musical events and extravagant parties; however, major hotspots of these events remain the main cities, which include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Darwin. Details of two of the most ostentatious hubs of New Year celebrations are given below.
Sydney hosts one of the largest firework shows on earth to celebrate the dawning of a new year. Approximately 80,000 fireworks are setoff from the world renowned monument - Sydney Harbor Bridge, to mark this occasion. This stunning colorful show paints the skyline of the city in breathtaking shades and is visible up to 16 km from the city's periphery. This enchanting show continues for 15 to 25 minutes and leaves almost over 1.5 million spectators present there awestruck. Besides this, quite a few music events are also organized on various beaches around Sydney.
The Sydney Council is actively involved in arranging various interesting events to enhance the festive mood around the city and therefore, invites world-renowned vocalists and musicians to perform on this occasion. With every passing year, the New Year beach parties in Sydney keep getting better and better. However, not all attend these parties; many opt to throw parties at their homes. People around Australia make sure to spend some quality time on New Year with their families, no matter how busy their schedule might be. Nowadays, New Year cruises have also become a rage in the country, as many people are beginning to consider the middle of the ocean as a perfect spot to welcome the New Year.
Melbourne is known throughout the world for its mad and vibrant party scenes. The city is home to some of the most lavish and stylish night clubs, discotheques and party places, all of which are jam-packed with revelers on New Year's Eve. Pristine beaches of the city are popular venues for several thrilling rock band performances at this time of the year. The favorite activity that people love to indulge in all these spectacular places is dancing to the rhythmic fast-paced songs. Many clubs organize various other fun activities for their guests, like games and cabaret shows. A unique trait that can be seen in the New Year celebrations held in Melbourne is the confluence of Chinese-Australian cultures. Various Chinese rituals, like sacrifices to the ancestors, are observed by people with full reverence. Thus, Australians celebrate New Year amidst various traditions with full vigor.
The New Year celebrations in Australia are an enthralling experience for one and all.