New Year's Day around the world.

New Year’s Day around the world


On Wednesday January 1st 2020, around 90% of the world’s population will observe a public holiday to mark International New Year’s Day. What about the other 10%?

This makes it easily the most popular public holiday of the year. However there are still some countries who don’t observe January 1st. This is due to religious reasons. Israel, for instance, follows the Jewish calendar. Egypt follows the Coptic calendar, which although Christian, places the major festivals twelve days later then the majority of other countries who follow the Gregorian calendar.

So whether you are busy making (or breaking) your New Year’s resolutions or recovering from the celebrations of New Year’s Eve, it is worth noting that in the countries listed below, 1st January is a normal working day.

Afghanistan Afghanistan
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Bhutan Bhutan
Egypt Egypt
Ethiopia Ethiopia
Iran Iran
Israel Israel
Libya Libya
Nepal Nepal
Pakistan Pakistan
Qatar Qatar
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

Note: There are some states in India and Malaysia who do not observe a regional public holiday on January 1st.

A double celebration

There are also several countries who celebrate January 1st for another reason than the start of the new year. In most of these countries, the new year celebrations are more prominent than the historical reasons listed below.

Cuba Cuba
Triumph of the Revolution
Czech Republic Czech Republic
Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State
Haiti Haiti
Independence Day
Slovakia Slovakia
Day of the Establishment of the Slovak Republic
Sudan Sudan
Independence Day

New Year Facts

  • In 45 BC, New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st for the first time as the Julian calendar came into use.
  • Until the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian one in 1752, the new year in England began on March 25th. (The Scots changed to January 1st in 1600.)
  • It wasn’t until 1582 when the Roman Catholic Church officially adopted January 1st as the New Year.
  • Until 1972, the national anthem of the Maldives was sung to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
  • In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long. The tradition dates back to medieval times.
  • All racehorses by tradition celebrate their birthday on 1st January – in the Northern Hemisphere.