Happy almost New Year friends!! With the ’00s coming to a close, and the teens chomping at the bit, it’s time to strap on a stupid hat, throw some confetti, and watch that famous ball drop!
But wait, you say…why does the ball drop? And “Auld Lang Syne”…what does that even mean? Well look no further, for here are your answers! Behold -some random trivia on New Year’s Eve…probably more than you ever wanted to know. Now go forth and prosper in 2010 - I wish you all a very Happy and healthy New Year!
-New Year’s Origin: The celebration of New Year was first observed in ancient Babylon around 2000 BC. They celebrated on March 23 because it was when spring began and new crops were planted. Their celebration lasted for 11 days. The date which signified the New Year was tampered with by various emperors for many years to come - notably, Julius Caesar, who in 46 BC established the Julian Calendar and set January 1 as New Year’s Day.
- "Auld Lang Syne": This is a phrase from a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns, and it means "Old Long Ago," or translated idiomatically, “Long Long Ago.” Even though sounds like it’s talking about forgotten acquaintances, it is generally regarded as a call to remember long standing friendships. Although this song is traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve around the world - especially in English speaking countries - it is also used in many ceremonies that signify endings and/or new beginnings. For example, funerals, graduations, and farewells. In one notable instance, a Japanese WWII ship sank with more than 1,000 Australian men trapped aboard (mostly POWs). The Australian men able to escape the sinking ship sang Auld Lang Synefrom the water to honor their doomed mates still aboard. Yeesh. I’ll take the Times Square version. Speaking of Times Square…
- The Times Square Ball Drop: The Times Square ball has been dropping at midnight on New Year’s Eve every year since 1907, with the exception of 1942 & 1943 because of a wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. Even though this is arguably one of the most well known ball drops, it is not the first by any means. The first ball drop was at England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. The ball would drop every afternoon at 1pm to allow captains of nearby ships to set their navigation instruments to an exact time. This was a successful practice, so over 150 ball drops were placed around the world for that same purpose, although very few of them still function. The US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC still honors this tradition every day at noon so their ship captains can keep time, and ships off the coast of New York City still mark time to the Times Square ball drop every year on New Year’s Eve.
-New Year’s Resolutions: It’s a new year, a new you…all that optimistic hopeful stuff. The Babylonians are believed to have started this tradition - with the most common resolution being “to return borrowed farm equipment.” Fun times! So what are the most common resolutions today? Spend more time with family & friends, lose weight, quit smoking, exercise, quit drinking, get out of debt/spend money wisely, learn something new, volunteer, get organized and generally enjoy life more. If your resolution wasn’t listed, congrats on being original!
- Baby New Year: This tradition is said to have started in Greece around 600 BC. A baby in a basket represented the rebirth and celebration of the god of wine, Dionysus. This annual rebirth celebrated the young new year and fertility. However, the 14th century Germans are credited with having the first image of a baby on a New Year’s banner.