Auld Lang Syne, Times Square, and Champagne
by Kelly R. Smith
This article was updated on 12/16/20.
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New Year’s Eve only comes once a year (obviously) and is known far and wide as the preeminent night to party hearty and sneak that kiss when the ball drops on Times Square. But you might not know that it has a long history and the trivia to go with it. Don’t forget to make your New Year’s resolution something realistic this year like improving your credit score.
The Origin of the New Year’s Kiss
Most historians agree that the New Year’s Eve kiss made its debut in the Middle Ages and had is derived from either German and English folklore. Both cultures enjoyed the tradition. The basic idea is that the first person you encounter in a new year will set that year’s tone. So choose wisely; most people’s inhibitions are fairly low at this point (beer goggles). In any event a kiss is the best ritual to start the new year with. Of course, with that whole COVID-19 pandemic thing…
The Party Statistics are Staggering
Statistics suggest that about 22% of us will be passing out before the clock strikes 12 midnight. That really narrows the field of kiss-kiss prospects (unless you’re really into some serious weirdness). This is where the designated drivers have an edge; that seems like a pretty good strategy. Now, who’s ready for a liver detox?
Those of Us Lucky Enough to Live In the South Eat Black Eyed Peas On New Year’s Day
Not only does this start us off with a hearty helping of fiber, the tradition also brings us good luck. This meal is derived from from a Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) custom so why the Northerners haven’t fully embraced the tradition is a mystery. It started when the first Shepari Jews moved to Georgia in the 1730s.
Additionally, Tripsavvy.com tells us that, “Most Southerners will tell you that this culinary custom dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food. The peas were not deemed worthy of serving to General Sherman’s Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates’ food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas then became symbolic of luck.”
The Iconic Times Square Ball Drop
The countdown and subsequent ball drop dates back to December 31, 1907. Ever since then, it’s been reenacted every year except for a couple during World War II. The Times Square ball today is made of Waterford Crystal and weighs 11,875 pounds. Needless to say, you don’t want that ball to come crashing down on the assembled mob below. It can display 16 million colors! There have been seven versions over the years and it is owned by the building owners of One Times Square. Its got a diameter of 6 feet and takes one minute to drop. The hoopla accompanying its glorious descent is ear-shattering. This year, amid the China Virus pandemic, it is doubtful that Mayor de Blasio will let celebrants congregate en masse.
New Year’s Used to be Celebrated on March 20th.
No, it wasn’t always on January 1st. Why is it now? Because Julius Caesar made the rules back then according to the Gregorian Calendar. Before that, New Year’s was on March 20th according to Mesopotamian rules. That is coincidental with the Spring Equinox, which makes sense. Of course today it is illegal to celebrate it in Saudi Arabia. That’s right, the same peaceful and tolerant people that brought New York all the fireworks on 9/11.
These are just a bit of New Year’s trivia and fun facts to stump your fellow party animals with. Now go get that party hat on already!
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.