In this file photo, fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, during the New Year's Eve celebration in Dubai. Image Credit: AP

Three, two, one – Happy New Year!

Click start to play today’s Crossword and spot the annual transition in one of the clues.

Around the world, cultures and civilisations have been celebrating the start of the new year for at least four millennia. The earliest recorded festivity dates back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon, according to For them, the first day of the new year came around right after the vernal equinox – a day in March with equal amounts of daylight and darkness. Babylonians used to host a massive festival called Akitu, which ran for 11 days and involved a different ritual in each one. It also marked the time a new king was crowned or the current ruler’s reign was symbolically renewed.

As time passed, people began associating the first day of the year with an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the Nile would flood every year, and this occasion coincidentally lined up with the rising of the star Sirius. It was the perfect time to mark a new year.

In Rome, for decades, the calendar comprised 10 months and 304 days, and each year began at the vernal equinox. The calendar was created by the founder of Rome, Romulus, in the eighth century BC. But over time, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun.

Finally, in 46BC, the emperor Julius Caesar consulted with the region’s most knowledgable astronomers and mathematicians, and created the Julian calendar. It closely resembles the Gregorian calendar that we use around the world today!

Caesar marked January 1 as the first day of the year. One of his reasons for doing so was to pay homage to the month’s namesake, Janus, who was the Roman deity of beginnings, with two faces that allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.

Today, the New Year is marked my most cultures around the world. Revelries begin on the evening of December 31 and go on well into January 1. Unique traditions have sprung around the globe, as part of New Year festivities, and most revolve around food.

In Spain, for instance, people eat a dozen grapes right before midnight, as a symbol of their hopes for the coming year. In several cultures, traditional New Year’s dishes comprise legumes, which look like coins and are thought to usher in future financial success. Ring-shaped cakes are common too, in places like Netherlands, Mexico and Greece, as they symbolise a year that’s come full circle. Head to Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway, and you might find rice pudding with an almond hidden inside – whoever finds the nut is expected to have 12 months of good fortune in the upcoming year.

How do you mark New Year? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at