Happy New Year 2011   Buenos Aires guide for expats...

New Years Around the World

04 January, 2011 11:52  Erin Erin

New year celebration with fireworks © Fejo - Fotolia.com


New York City

Though the U.S. officially spans 9 time zones, most Americans watch the city of New York and its traditional ball drop for New Years Eve. Times Square fills with about a million eager party-goers, decked out in novelty glasses, paper top hats, and noisemakers. The snow that caused such havoc throughout the hectic winter season was swept aside. Host Ryan Seacrest led the festivities as a range of celebrities performed. Snooki, from the infamous reality TV show Jersey Shore, was planned to appear in the globe that drops at midnight. At the last minute, this odd sideshow act was pushed to the nearby state of New Jersey which spawned the original show.

Back within NYC, the real Times Square ball was prepared for its performance. About 12 feet in diameter and weighing almost 6 tons, the ball holds more than 32,000 LED lights. Redesigned every year for optimal sparkle, 2,669 new Waterford crystal panels were added for 2011. "Let There Be Love" was the theme for this year's celebration.

As the clock ticked down, the ball dropped and a raucous crowd took up the count "5! 4! 3! 2! 1!!!" and a ton of confetti was dropped over Times Square. People broke out the champagne, exchanged kisses, and individual well wishing appeared on the screens in more than 25 languages, a tradition of the past three years.

South America

Rio de Janeiro

People around the world come to rejoice in Rio's popular festival (2nd only after Carnival). Jan lst is the beginning of summer and the masses head to the beaches to dance (although the popular area of Ipanema Beach has been outgrown). An especially hot new years, there were more people present then usual as 2010 was an amazing year for the city. Rio was chosen to host the 2016 Olympics, and the city looks forward to the 2014 World Cup.

People celebrate in white, a lucky color. Accessories include other colors, such as red for romance, yellow for prosperity, green for good health. Black is not acceptable, no matter how good you look. People let off fountains of champagne at midnight - complaining isn't allowed as it's considered good luck. Some people also brought flowers, as it is a tradition to throw them into the sea as an offering to Yemanja, the deity of the seas. Some people even give beauty kits, complete with a small wooden boat base to send it floating away.

Added in 2008, a giant Ferris Wheel was installed at Forte de Copacabana which offers digital effects and images of Rio and the countdown. People give thanks, meats are BBQ'd, fireworks are set-off, and all of South America parties.



A wonderful place to visit on any occasion, the city of light is magic for New Years. Six hours before the Times Square Ball drops in New York City, Paris is already celebrating.

The famed Champs-Elysees comes alive for the New Year. And to get there is easy as the Paris metro is free on New Years Eve until around 0:30. Revealers start arriving at Champs-Elysees at around 21:00, armed with champagne bottles and plastic flute glasses. Other people are literally armed with fireworks and rockets as it is legal to buy and sell fireworks within the city. Be careful as some of the city's youth start the new year a little reckless, setting off fireworks in the metro, or simply at your feet.

As time ticks down, people prepare to watch the pros set off the real fireworks on the Eiffel Tower. The Sacre Coeur Cathedral is also a poplar spot as the atmosphere is calmer, and the views of the Paris skyline are impressive. For those wishing to keep the party going, Paris nightclubs, cabarets, and restaurants are packed. The legendary Moulin Rouge is a classic place to start the New Year.

This New Year, Paris reports with relief, went by quite calmly as the notorious "tradition" car-burning was kept at a minimum. Though an exact number has not been determined, early reports show about 120 cars were burnt in Paris and its suburbs which is less then 2009/2010 celebrations.

London & Scotland

Thousands of people line the banks of the River Thames to celebrate the new year. Modern river catamarans float along as people wish each other well. As the countdown begins, fireworks light up the sky behind Big Ben. for those preferring to celebrate inside, the London stage hosts special events and many clubs and pubs host all-night parties.

In Scotland, the people paid homage to their roots with a torchlight procession of costumed Vikings. The procession ended with the burning of a Viking long ship. Known as "Hogmanay", this is what the Scottish call the last day of the year.


Known by Germans as Silvester (or szilveszter, sylvester or sylwester), this name is used by Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia. Named for St. Sylvester, the celebration in Berlin is joyous.

As it has since 1972, a short play, Dinner for One (or Der 90. Geburtstag), is played in English on stations throughout Germany. Filmed in Hamburg in 1963 in black and white, it is an anomaly how this skit about a rich socialite and her elderly butler became so popular. It is the most frequently repeated TV program ever and the phrase, "the same procedure as every year", can be heard all year long.

Other odd customs, that are less common these days, include Bleigiessen, where molten lead dropped into cold water to predict this year's fortune. Another tradition is to have a chimney sweep rub some ash onto your forehead for good luck and health. Even the doughnut gets tied up in these interesting bits of tradition as jelly filled doughnuts might be served, with one trick doughnut filled with mustard.

The actual night of celebration in Berlin is one of the largest New Year's Eve celebrations in all of Europe. Over a million people crowd onto the street Unter den Linden in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Even more people party in the surrounding areas, such as the large clear space in front of the Reichstag. All over the city, the German reputation for purchasing and setting off mass quantities of fireworks is on display.

This year also brought the performance of David Hasselhoff. As with so many things German, "The Hoff" is inexplicably popular. And as the clock struck midnight, people enjoyed the fireworks, professional and otherwise.



The famed Sydney Opera House is back lit by magnificent fireworks as we entered 2011...or several hours before the Western world experienced it. Australia has one of the earliest time zones in the world. Australians celebrate with elaborate parades, music and entertainers. There are also a plethora of New Years Eve balls with elaborate themes like masquerade, black-tie and formal wear, tropical, or gangster and glamour.

Like NYC, Sydney featured a televised countdown. At midnight, fireworks were launched to welcome the new year and people kissed and toasted to the 2011.



Fireworks were invented in ancient China in the 12th century. Created to scare away evil spirits, this followed the other ingenious invention of gunpowder. This historical tie plays out in the display of fireworks at most important festivities for the country.

Taipei showed its firework prowess this 2010/2011 changeover. The number 100 appeared above Taiwan's tallest building, Taipei 101. Another feat of light was the firework portrait of leader Sun Yat-sen. This celebration was especially important as it marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name.


Traditionally, Muslim Arabs have not celebrated the new year marked on the Gregorian calendar. Emirates usually celebrate only the two Eids and the Islamic new year. However, the influx of expats and opening to the Western world has led to more celebration then in the past. Most people who celebrate will in a small group of family and friends, and most Emirates will simple wish each other well on this day.

For those wanting a little grandeur, fireworks can be arranged through special package deals from restaurants and hotels.

Expats in the New Year

Many expats celebrated the new year in their adopted city, but maybe none as early as British expat Derek Andrewartha. He lives on the island nation of Kiribati, the first country on the planet to see 2011. Located within the Pacific Ocean, the island arrived in the new year 12 hours before mainland UK. Andrewartha said ”When my old pals are toasting midnight tonight, I will probably be sitting down to my lunch with a sore head".

Also known as Christmas Island, the nation has a population of less than 100,000. Celebrations for the New Year traditionally consist of a big family meal on the beach at midnight. Fresh fish and lots of beer - not a bad life for an expat!



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"Paris ... reports show about 120 cars were burnt in Paris and its suburbs which is less then 2009/2010"> Indeed less than the previous year but much more than a decade ago. The French newspaper Le Monde has just revealed that, for this New Year, police sources reported 900 to 1 000 vehicles burned in France, a slight decrease compared to previous years where fires had reached record highs with more than 1100 vehicles burned in NYE 2009 and NYE 2010.

The number of fires are still far higher than in previous periods. For New Year's Eve, they counted 300 fires in the mid-2000s, then 400 in 2007 and nearly 900 in 2008. While in slight decline, the beginning of year 2011 is thus amongst the worst results for the past twenty years.


Cyril     05 Jan 2011, 12:21