People ring in the New Year in many different ways. For more than 100 years, people in the United States have stayed up until the stroke of midnight to watch the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square. About
1 million people gather there each year to see the spectacle in person, while more than 1 billion people around the world watch on their televisions at home.
The tradition began in 1907 when Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, came up with the idea to slowly lower a lighted ball from the flagpole on the roof of the newspaper’s headquarters. This first ball was made of wood, iron, and incandescent light bulbs. Since then, the ball has been updated six times! It got a big upgrade in 2007 to celebrate the ball drop’s 100th anniversary. That included the addition of triangular crystal panels that are lit by LED bulbs. These bulbs shine brightly but don’t need to heat up to produce light, which means they use less electricity.
In other cities around the world, such as Sydney, Australia, and London, England, people watch fireworks displays and hold their own ball drop inspired by the one in New York City. Other places celebrate with special foods, such as soba noodles in Japan, tamales in Mexico, or eating 12 grapes in Spain—one for each month of the new year. And in parts of Europe, North America, and more, swimmers take traditional New Year’s Day dips in frigid seas!