New Year's signifies a new beginning and is a time of renewal and regeneration. Each year people welcome the New Year with a variety of traditions that include fireworks, noisemakers, drinking, making resolutions and revelry. New Year's is celebrated at different times around the globe and in many different ways. However people celebrate, they do so in hopes of ushering in a happy and prosperous new year.
Dropping the Ball
Each year, people go to Times Square in New York City to watch the ball drop at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day. The New Year's celebrations began in 1904 when the owner of The New York Times, Alfred Ochs, held a street festival, with the Times Tower building being the focus of the party. Ochs spared no expense and set off fireworks from the base of the tower. Two years later, fireworks were banned, but Ochs came up with the idea of an illuminated ball to mark the New Year. The original ball, according to Celebrations.com, was made of wood and iron, and decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. The ball was first dropped in 1907.
Tournament of Roses Parade
The Tournament of Roses has come a long way from its meager beginnings. The event began in 1886 as a promotional effort by the Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena, California. The group wanted to promote its fresh flowers and oranges that were blooming in the California sun during midwinter. The club's members decorated carriages with flowers and paraded through Pasadena. The Tournament of Roses now consists of elaborate and exotic floats.
The Rose Bowl football game, the oldest bowl game, is a tradition that has followed the parade since 1902. Although football was replaced with Roman style chariot races, it was permanently reinstated in1916, according to the Tournament of Roses website.
Auld Lang Syne
It is a tradition to sing "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve. The words to the Scottish song were first published by the poet Robert Burns in 1796. Burns made refinements to the lyrics after hearing it sung by an old man. Guy Lombardo, a Canadian born bandleader, made the song a New Year's tradition when his orchestra played it each year at the stroke of midnight at the annual New Year's Eve festivities held at the Roosevelt Grill in New York, and later at the Waldorf Astoria.
At the stroke of midnight, the sound of noisemakers and fireworks can be heard throughout the night. Some people shoot off guns, while others bang pots and pans together. All of the noise isn't just for fun. The roots of this tradition stem from an ancient belief that if enough noise is made, it will drive away evil spirits.
People follow certain food traditions for luck on New Year's Day often based on where their family comes from. Eating pork and sauerkraut is a German tradition. In the American South, some people eat black-eyed peas and collards, while in Sicily, some people eat lasagna. In Spain and parts of Mexico, it is common to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. In Sweden and Norway, people serve rice pudding with an almond hidden inside. The person who finds the nut will have a year of good fortune.
Around the Globe
Not everyone celebrates the new year on Jan. 1. Koreans celebrate New Year's during the first three days of January. In China, which follows a lunar calendar, and celebrates the new year in the spring, a parade is led by a silk dragon, which is the Chinese symbol of strength.
People in parts of South America and Mexico wear red underwear on New Year's Eve to be lucky in love, yellow undies to be lucky with money. The Dutch welcome the new year with fireworks and bonfires of old Christmas trees.
- Celebrations.com: New Year's Eve History and Traditions
- TimesSquareNYC.org: History of New Year's Eve
- Scholastic.com: New Year Celebrations Around the World
- InfoPlease.com: New Year's Traditions
- History.com: New Year's
- TravelandLeisure.com: World's Strangest New Year Traditions
- TournamentofRoses.com: Tournament of Roses History
- FoodChannel.com: New Year's Recipes to Bring Good Luck
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images