Champagne toasts, countdown parties, the ball drop at Times Square, these are some of the iconic moments and traditions we associate with New Year’s celebrations today. Honoring the start of the new calendar year is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world. Despite the countless New Year’s Eve celebrations you’ve participated in throughout the years, there are probably a lot of New Year’s history facts you didn’t know!
Even though we currently celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1st, it wasn’t always celebrated then. Throughout history, different cultures and civilizations celebrated the start of a new year during a significant astronomical or agricultural event. According to History.com, the earliest recorded New Year celebration is known to have taken place almost 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon! For these Mesopotamians, a new year was indicated by the appearance of the first new moon after the vernal equinox which took place around late March. This rising of the new moon was often celebrated with a massive 11-day festival called Akitu which had a different ritual on each of the 11 days.
According to worldstrides.com, typical New Year’s traditions that are celebrated also have some ancient origins to them as well! For example, making resolutions for the coming year is a practice that’s actually thought to have originated from the ancient Babylonians! The age-old tradition of kissing your loved one at the stroke of midnight is a practice that is thought to have been passed down from English and German folklore. According to their traditions, the first person you encountered in the new year would determine the year’s destiny.
Many other countries have traditions that have ancient origins to them as well! On New Year’s people in Colombia will run around the house (or block) with a suitcase to ensure that the upcoming year is filled with travel. Danes will jump off of chairs at the stroke of midnight to literally “leap” into a luck-filled new year, while people in Spain will eat 12 grapes at or before midnight or risk poisoning their fate for the coming year, one grape for each stroke of midnight! Residents of Denmark ring in the new year by throwing old plates and glass against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. While in Greece an onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. Parents even tap their children’s heads with the onion to wake them in the morning! In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love, and yellow, thought to bring money.
The most iconic New Year’s Eve tradition celebrated in the U.S. is the ball-drop in New York City’s Times Square as the clock strikes midnight! According to the official Times Square Ball website, the ball drop has been a tradition since 1907. The first New Year’s Eve ball, designed by a young immigrant metalworker, was a 700-pound sphere made up of iron, wood, and 100 light bulbs. Seven different versions have been designed since, eventually evolving into the version in use today, a 12,000 pound, brightly patterned orb covered with LED lamps and Waterford Crystal panels. The actual notion of a ball “dropping” to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year’s Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first “time-ball” was installed atop England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o’clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers.
Whatever your plans and resolutions are for this New Year, we at Rich & Associates, Inc. wish you and yours a very healthy, happy and prosperous 2020!