On Saturday night and early Sunday, there were parties and festivities in Israel for welcoming 2023, making it the first time in three years when there were no COVID restrictions in place.
People flocked to restaurants, pubs and other public places all around the country, including the Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem, for welcoming the new year.
Other people opted to celebrate simply in private, or gather at home.
People had not been able to celebrate properly in 2020, as the country had been in the midst of its third lockdown back then.
Likewise, there had been plenty of restrictions in place in 2021 as well, as it had been the start of the fifth and final lockdown in Israel.
On Sunday morning, the ambulance service of Magen David Adom said that about 1,000 people had been treated by its medics during the night.
These included 61 people who had gotten injured on the road, 17 people who had been hurt in violent incidents and there were also 30 people who had consumed alcohol and needed treatment.
In addition, there were also 10 women who had been taken to hospitals in ambulances in order to give birth.
While the New Year is celebrated by many people in Israel, it should be noted that it is not that big of an event as it is in Western countries and it is a bit more low-key.
There are no such festivities like the ball drop at Times Square, or anything like the amazing fireworks that are often displayed in many capitals all over the globe.
Moreover, New Year Day is not an official holiday in the country, unlike the Jewish New Year in the fall on Rosh Hashanah.
In fact, New Year’s Eve is referred to as ‘Sylvester’ by many Israelis, something a lot of European countries do as well.
It refers to Pope Sylvester I from the fourth-century who passed away on December 31st.
There are a total of 1.7 million immigrants in Israel and many of them are from the Soviet Union, or from their descendants.
As a matter of fact, tens of thousands of these immigrants arrived in Israel this year after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022.
These immigrants traditionally celebrate New Year’s in Russian called Novy God. It is celebrated from December 31st and includes family gatherings and parties.
Two days before the end of 2022, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had once more taken control of the government in Israel.
He also shared a festive message, claiming that it was a new direction for the country with the new government and hoped everyone would have a good year.
Many immigrants traditionally watch the speech of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president when they gather to celebrate Novy God on New Year’s Eve.
However, this time they had opted to watch the speech of Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President. They said that COVID had made celebrations difficult, but now things were getting back to normal.