The first year of a new decade, 2021-2030, is almost upon us. This New Year, however, is different from any other as it comes in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The outbreak has led to several cities announcing curbs on their respective New Year celebrations. The Australian city of Sydney, known for its iconic New Year celebrations, too, has asked ‘Sydneysiders’ to stay at home this year and ring in 2021, due to the emergence of a virus cluster in its northern beaches.
Sydney, with its extravagant fireworks, has always been thought of as the first city in the world, and Australia as the first country, to welcome a New Year. This, however, is not the case. The first countries in the world to welcome a New Year are actually the Pacific islands of Tonga, Samoa and Christmas /Kiribati, where January 1 commences at 10 am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or 3:30 pm as per the Indian Standard Time (IST), on December 31. The last place to welcome the New Year are the uninhabited Howland and Baker Islands, near the United States, at 12 pm GMT or 5:30 pm IST, on January 1. American Samoa is the second last to celebrate the New Year, at 11 am GMT or 4:30 pm IST, on January 1.
Here’s when the New Year begins in some countries:
December 31 (as per GMT):
New Zealand: 10:15 am
Australia (most regions): 1 pm
Japan, South Korea and North Korea: 3 pm
China, Philippines and Singapore: 4 pm
Bangladesh: 6 pm, Nepal: 6:15 pm, India and Sri Lanka: 6:30 pm, Pakistan: 7 pm
Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Spain: 11 pm
UK, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal: 12 am