Holidays Calendar for December 31, 2013

On December 31, Western Christians celebrate Saint Sylvester’s Day. For many non-Christians and non-religious people around the world, the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar is simply New Year’s Eve. In some countries, it is a public holiday or at least at half-holiday.

International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis is a public holiday celebrated in the Republic of Azerbaijan on December 31. It was first declared in 1991 by Heydar Aliyev, who subsequently became President of Azerbaijan.

National Heroes Day is a public holiday in East Timor celebrated on December 31. It was established to honor those who gave their lives for the country's independence.

Hanukkah, also transliterated as Chanukah, is a Jewish eight-day festival of lights that starts on the 25th day of the month of Kislev. It commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt, following Judah Maccabee’s victory over the Seleucids.


The last days of the old year and the first days of a new one are a time for reflection. Some people use this time to make their New Year’s resolutions, while others contemplate more global things such as world peace. Some of the latter even observe World Peace Meditation Day on December 31.

Customs Officers' Day, also known as Customs Day, is an official professional holiday in Kyrgyzstan celebrated on December 31. It was established by the government of the Kyrgyz Republic in 2006 and has been celebrated annually ever since.

Kwanzaa is an annual week-long celebration that is observed from December 26 to January 1. This holiday is celebrated in the United States and also in diaspora in the Western Africa. Kwanzaa honors the African heritage in African-American culture.

Since Switzerland is a federal state, each of its cantons has its own official observances in addition to nationwide public holidays. For example, the canton of Geneva celebrates Restoration Day on December 31. It commemorates the restoration of the Republic of Geneva in 1813.

National Champagne Day is informally observed on December 31. This is the perfect day to celebrate champagne because it is customary to toast the New Year with champagne. However, some holiday calendars claim that Champagne Day is celebrated on August 4.

First Night is a cultural and artistic celebration of the first night of the new year. It's traditionally held on New Year's Eve and successfully replaces it.

This Day in History

  • 2022 Died: Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger), the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 19 April 2005 until his resignation on 28 February 2013.
  • 2021 Died: Betty White, American actress, comedian and producer. A pioneer of early television with a career spanning almost seven decades, she was noted for her vast television appearances.
  • 2020 Died: Robert Hossein, French actor, director, and writer. He directed the 1982 adaptation of Les Misérables, and he is also known for playing Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angélique film series.
  • 2016 Died: William Christopher, American actor and comedian, best known for playing Father John Mulcahy on the television series M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983 and its spinoff AfterMASH from 1983 to 1985.
  • 2015 Died: Natalie Cole, American singer, songwriter, and actress; the daughter of singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole. During her career, Cole won nine Grammy Awards.
  • 2015 Died: Wayne Rogers, American actor, probably best known for playing the role of Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre in the first three seasons of the CBS television series M*A*S*H.
  • 2014 A dedaly stampede occurred near Chen Yi Square on the Bund in Shanghai during the New Year's Eve celebration. 36 people were killed and 49 were injured.
  • 2009 Two astronomical events, a partial lunar eclipse and a blue moon, occurred on the same night. The next coincidence of this kind will occur on December 31, 2028.
  • 2005 Born: Lakshmi Tatma, Indian girl born with four arms and four legs. She was actually one of a pair of ischiopagus conjoined twins one of which was headless.
  • 2004 Died: Gérard Debreu, French and subsequently American mathematician and economist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
  • 1999 The First President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly announced his resignation. Yeltsin was succeeded by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
  • 1998 Born: Hunter Schafer, American model, actress, and LGBTQ rights activist. She rose to fame portraying transgender high school student Jules Vaughn in the HBO teen drama television series Euphoria.
  • 1994 The Russian Army began the invasion of Grozny during the First Chechen War. The Chechen capital was captured and completely sealed off on February 22, 1995.
  • 1993 Died: Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgian dissident, scientist, author, and statesman who became the first democratically elected President of Georgia after its independence.
  • 1990 Born: Patrick Chan, Canadian former competitive figure skater. He is a 2018 Olympic gold medalist in the team event, 2014 Olympic silver medalist in the men's and team events, and a three-time World champion.
  • 1988 Polish alpine and high-altitude climber Krzysztof Wielicki became the first person to ascend Lhotse in winter. Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world.
  • 1977 Born: Psy (stage name of Park Jae-sang), South Korean singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer who rose to international prominence with his single "Gangnam Style".
  • 1974 Born: Joe Abercrombie, British fantasy writer and film editor. He is the author of The First Law trilogy, as well as other fantasy books in the same setting, and the Shattered Sea YA trilogy.
  • 1972 Died: Henry Gerber, German-born American LGBT rights activist. He founded the first known homosexual organization in the USA, the Society for Human Rights.
  • 1965 Born: Nicholas Sparks, American novelist, screenwriter, and film producer. His best known novels include The Notebook, Message in the Bottle, A Walk to Remember etc.
  • 1963 The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as the Central African Federation, was officially dissolved, subsequently becoming Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
  • 1959 Born: Val Kilmer, American actor of stage and screen known for his roles in the films Top Secret!, Real Genius, Top Gun, Willow, The Doors, Batman Forever etc.
  • 1958 Born: Bebe Neuwirth, American actress, singer, and dancer. Known for her roles on stage and screen, she has received two Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, and a Drama Desk Award.
  • 1953 Died: Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer best known as the founder and first director of the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), which he made a flourishing company.
  • 1945 Born: Connie Willis, American author of science fiction and fantasy. As of 2015, she has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for particular works.
  • 1943 Born: Ben Kingsley (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji), renowned English actor. As of 2023, he has won an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
  • 1937 Born: Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor of stage and screen, composer, and painter. He is best known for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won an Oscar.
  • 1909 Died: Spencer Trask, American financier, philanthropist, and venture capitalist. He supported many inventions, including Thomas Edison's invention of the electric light bulb.
  • 1908 Born: Simon Wiesenthal, Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor, writer, and Nazi hunter. He helped capture Adolf Eichmann, Franz Stangl, Hermine Braunsteiner, and Joseph Mengele.
  • 1896 Born: Henri Matisse, renowned French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor. He is know for both his original and fluid draughtsmanship and his use of color.
  • 1872 Died: Aleksis Kivi (born Alexis Stenvall), Finnish writer best known as the author of the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (published in 1870).
  • 1857 Queen Victoria symbolically selected Ottawa as a location for the permanent capital of Canada. In reality, the town was selected by the executive branch of the government.
  • 1775 The Battle of Quebec was fought during the American Revolutionary War. It was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, who suffered heavy losses.
  • 1757 Empress Elizabeth I of Russia incorporated Prussian town of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) into the Russian Empire. The Russian army abandoned the town in 1763.
  • 1719 Died: John Flamsteed, English astronomer who cataloged over 3000 stars. In 1675, Flamsteed was appointed the first Astronomer Royal by King Charles II.
  • 1691 Died: Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish chemist, physicist, natural philosopher, and inventor. Boyle is widely regarded today as one of the founders of modern chemistry.
  • 1655 Died: Janusz Radziwiłł, Polish noble and magnate who occupied a number of important posts in the state administration of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • 1600 The East India Company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I of England. The company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies.
  • 1491 Born: Jacques Cartier, French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.