Nonetheless, the Gregorian calendar was adopted for civil use with the British conquest of the Ottoman Empire, on March 1, 1917, and the beginning of the year reset to January 1 in 1918.

In the first decade of the British Mandate, the local Orthodox Christian population marked the new year according to the Julian calendar in mid-January, Muslims celebrated the new year in summer, and the Jewish population honored Rosh Hashana in early fall.

Establishments like Haifa’s Café Vienna promised dancing till dawn on New Year’s Eve. The National Library of Israel collections

British Army soldiers stationed in the region had their big blow-outs at Christmas (see Biscuits, bully beef and beer), but by the mid-1920s, with British officialdom firmly in place, New Year’s Eve celebrations were organized. In 1927, several wives of British bureaucrats based in Jerusalem are recorded as having held a dinner party followed by a ball on New Year’s Eve.

Owen M. Tweedy, Public Information Officer for the British Government in Jerusalem, at a New Year’s Eve party in 1941 with his staff and the Turkish Consul General and family. Photo from the Matson Photograph Collection/American Colony Photo Service, US Library of Congress

The Jewish population of pre-state Israel in the 1930s didn’t celebrate the Gregorian New Year, and instead embraced Hanukkah as its winter celebration.

Advertisements for New Year’s Eve celebrations, even if they were held at the Jewish-owned Mugrabi Theater in Tel Aviv, were targeted to English and Arabic speakers. The Jewish population announced its mid-December Hanukkah balls in Hebrew.

Posters from Hanukkah and New Year’s balls in pre-state Israel. The National Library of Israel collections

This article was originally published on the Israel21c website, read the rest of it here.