As we mark the passing of yet another year, we thought it would be fun to share with you some interesting trivia tidbits on the history of New Year's Eve and traditions associated with it (courtesy of www.2020site.org):
Back in Time
Because of the different calendar system used in ancient Babylon, the actual New Year started with the New Moon., which was followed by the first day of spring in March. In that time, New Year's Eve and any celebrations associated with it transpired over 11 days. Every day was a different type of celebration which usually signified rebirth, a new period of blossoming and a new season of crops.
The Roman calendar was changed over and over again each time a new emperor took charge until it eventually did not match the Sun's patterns. It took an official act of the Roman Senate to dictate that January 1 would be the beginning of the New Year.
Resolutions are popular pastimes to make for each New Year. Friends often sit around and discuss or share these resolutions with each other on New Year's Eve. In ancient Babylonia, one common resolution was to return any farm equipment borrowed from friends or neighbors.
New Year’s Eve Fun Facts
Most New Year's Eve fun facts also involve New Year's Day and traditions that occur close to midnight.
- The Catholic Church denounced any New Year's celebrations as paganism. Ironically, as Christianity rolled through the world, the Catholic community devised other types of celebrations for the "Feast of Christ's Circumcision," which is observed the same as New Year's Eve and Day.
- It is often thought that the first visitors you see after ringing in the New Year would bring you good or bad luck, depending on who you keep as friends and enemies. That's why most people celebrating on New Year's Eve often do so with friends and family.
- If the first person to visit you was a tall and dark-haired man, this was especially lucky.
- Items or food that is ring-shaped is also good luck. This symbolizes "coming full circle", which is what one year does. Some cultures eat ring-like food through the evening and through the night to ensure that good luck will be bestowed upon everyone who eats. The Dutch often eat doughnuts.
- Black-eyed peas (usually with ham) are often consumed in certain parts of the United States. These are thought to bring good fortune in cultures around the world, not just in the U.S.
- Other foods that are eaten on New Year's Eve are cabbage because the leaves represent prosperity. Ham (or a hog) also symbolizes prosperity. In Asian cultures, rice is a hearty and lucky staple that is eaten around midnight to signify the coming year of fortune.
Other Fun Facts
- Auld Lang Syne is sung at midnight to toast in the New Year. The song was composed by Robert Burns sometimes in the 1700's. The term means "old long ago" or "the good old days."
- December 31, 1907 saw the very first ball lowering in Times Square.
- Stats of the first New York ball: 700 pounds; 5 feet in diameter. The ball was made from wood and iron.
- The modern ball that is dropped is made from Waterford Crystal and weights over 1,000 pounds. There are over 9,000 LED lights, but uses hardly any energy. The ball begins to drop at 11:59 and completes the journey exactly at midnight to ring in the New Year.
- The ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943 due to wartime restrictions.
- On New Year's Eve, about 75% of American Parties are with 20 people or less.
See you in 2011!