The origins of New Year celebrations go back 4,000 years and more, when the Babylonians celebrated it, but then the start of the year coincided with the first day of spring. Only in 45 A.D., with the creation of the Julian calendar, was the start of the year fixed at 1 January. The date would become universal in 1582 with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar.
How it is celebrated in Rome: Most celebrations take place on the night of St Sylvester, New Year’s Eve, with open-air concerts, fireworks, people out in the streets, going to nightclubs or opting to stay in. The (free) New Year concert is held in Piazza del Popolo or at the Colosseum on the 31st, with the participation of one or more famous Italian singers. On January 1st most shops are closed. Public transport services are running, cinemas are open, as are theatres, which often put on special concerts or shows to celebrate the new year.