Hong Kong’s excitement for New Year’s Eve has not changed much throughout its history – go back One hundred years before the age of nightclubs and Lan Kwai Fong and it seems the dance parties were more lavish and grand. Jump back 50 years to the swingin’ 1960s and it seems Hong Kong people greeted the New Year with various ways but all in pleasure. Opposite to wild parties and clubs, church service had been common and important. In 2016 Hong Kongers might well have one of many things on their minds about the world around them and what it will mean in the future. Maybe they’re thinking of the threats of climate change, the threats of war in the Middle East or domestic terrorism. Perhaps they’re thinking of the ongoing tensions of housing, population growth and overcrowding here in Hong Kong; worried their friends or family will be tricked out of their life savings by phone scammers posing as mainland officials, or their children being subjected to the TSA. Here’s what we found in our past when we opened the South China Morning Post archives for New Year’s Day, 50 and 100 years ago. South China Morning Post, January 1, 1916 On New Year’s Day 1916 the world was in the middle of a global conflict that would be known as the First World War. The front page of the South China Morning Post was dominated by stories from the Western Front in France as well as the announcement that German prisoners of war interned in Hong Kong would be transferred to Australia, with the resolution from the Hon Mr P.H Holyoak of Legco that “...it is most desirable that the interned alien enemies should be removed from thie Colony at the earliest practicable moment.” Dance at Naval Theatre was said to be probably one of the most successful functions ever held in the theatre and most successful New Year celebration by the Royal Naval Quadrille Club. Dance was carried out under the artistic decoration. At midnight, 16 bells were struck on a ship bell, and the usual felicitation was indulged in. Dancing continued as ladies had to choose their own partners until 2am. The delightful evening was closed with words of thanks and two well-rendered solos. Dance at Taikoo on New Year eve was the most enjoyable scene when two hundred Taikoo Club’s members and friends gathered to welcome the beginning of the year. The hall was beautifully decorated with hangers of ever-green and life-size bust of H M. the King with Union Jack, foliage and varicoloured lights. At midnight, a brilliant lettering illumination of “A Guid New Year” appeared. All joined hands and sang “A Guid New Year” and “the King”. Dancing kept up till 2.30 when the company praised of the committee who made such enjoyable evening despite the critical period through which the Empire was passing. Church parade of Hongkong Police Reserve first marched to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception under Inspectors’ command and accompanied with the Police Reserve Band. On the way, they played two marches “H.K.P.R” and “No. 2 Company”. A Reverend received them at the Cathedral entrance. The Bishop officiated at the Pontifical Mass and the Pontifical Blessing was administered to large congregation which crowded the Cathedral. After the service, they marched to the Public Gardens for photos or to Caine Road. South China Morning Post editorial: “We may often and seriously be dubious of the future but on this day, in spite of war and all its grimness, men are able to thrust behind them all fears and alarums and to wish each other in all sincerity, as we wish our readers, a HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.” South China Morning Post January 1, 1966 New Year’s Day in 1966 saw news of war from a different front: the sight of American sailors in Wan Chai was commonplace as the US Navy docked its ships in Hong Kong. It had been a big year for Hong Kong: on one hand it found fame and notoriety as the setting for the worldwide cinematic hit The World of Suzie Wong, while the population had been shocked by the sudden closure of two major banks in Hong Kong. The seeds of discontent were sown, which would grow to outrage and riots later in the year. A cannon sounded on the stroke of midnight at the Jardine, Matheson and Co Ltd godown at East Point, a traditional welcome to 1966. The wife of a Director of Jardines fired the four-inch naval cannon. Jardines’ directors, employees and guests in total of more than 250 people heralded the New Year at party. Others welcomed the New Year with fireworks. Members and guests of the Hong Kong Country Club and onlookers watched the Deep Water Bay area lit with dozens of colours. The half-hour display showed different patterns of flowers and stars. Business boomed at leading hotels and night spots with the music of Auld Lang Syne to announce the Old Father Time giving way to the infant 1966. Gala balls held at the Mandarin and Peninsula Hotels, and the Hongkong Hilton’s Eagle’s Nest and Grand Ballroom, gathering full house of revellers. Night clubs and privates parties were also full of sounds of music and horns and shouts of “Happy New Year.” But down in the street many Hong Kong residents celebrated the arrival of 1966 differently. They sat quietly in churches, giving thanks for the year past and the year to come. In the cool evening air, the Cathedral bells joined with chimes from churches in all parts of Hong Kong to ring in the New Year. A large congregation gathered at St John’s Cathedral for a two-part New Year’s Eve worship. The Dean of the Cathedral led the Watchnight part of the service at 11:30 pm. After the bells ringing at midnight, the clergy returned to administer the first Communion of the New Year. Roman Catholic Cathedral held a High Mass with Te Deum and sermon, and the Reverend pronounced the Solemn Benediction. English Methodist Church celebrated the New Year with a Watchnight Service and a half-day trip to Lamma Island. The Union churches also celebrated with a Watchnight Service and Holy Communion.