New Year’s Eve is a day of reflection of the past year’s events and a time to prepare for the New Year. It is also the last day of the Canadian tax year. Many people attend special parties or other events to mark the end of one year and the start of the next one.
What Do People Do?
On New Year’s Eve, social gatherings of all sizes are organized to mark the end of one year and the start of the next. These range from small parties with family members and a few good friends in private homes to huge street parties with live entertainment, music, dancing and even public fireworks. Many events start in the middle of the evening on December 31 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
Some people mark the stroke of midnight by opening bottles of champagne or sparkling wine and drinking a toast to the New Year and the health of everyone present. Others take a short vacation to enjoy Canada’s natural beauty at its wintry best or to take part in winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. In rural areas in northern Canada, particularly in Quebec, some people spend all night on a frozen lake with a group of good friends and fish through holes in the ice.
December 31 is not a public holiday and in general post offices, stores and other businesses are open. However, they may close earlier than usual. Bars, restaurants and clubs may have special opening hours and different entrance policies to usual. Public transit services usually run as usual in the morning and early afternoon but may offer a reduced service or close down completely in the late afternoon or early evening. In some large cities, there may be extra transport services late in the evening on December 31 and the early hours of January 1 to enable people to return home from New Year celebrations safely.
In Europe, the darkest part of winter has been a time of celebration with displays of fire, evergreen plants and nature’s bounty since pre-Christian times. When many inhabitants of Europe were converted to Christianity, these festivals were merged with Christian beliefs and in time came to mark Christmas and the New Year. When European settlers came to Canada, they brought these customs with them and their celebrations evolved into the events seen today.
Symbols of New Year’s Eve include images of Canada’s winter landscape, winter sports, champagne bottles, and some New Year fireworks are in the form of traditional symbols associated with Canada, such as the maple leaf.