Five Random Facts About New Years

Celebrating New Years, photo courtesy of Pixabay

Annie Lindgren | North Forty News

 

As we bid farewell to 2021 and ring in the new year, here are some random facts to ponder about this last and first holiday of the year. 

  1. “Auld Lang Syne” is a Scottish folk song commonly played at the stroke of midnight. The title translates to ‘days gone by’ and is based on a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788, translated from an older Scottish folk song. The lyrics ask whether ‘auld acquaintances should ‘be forgotten,’ which interprets remembering friends and experiences from the past. It was broadcast from New York’s Roosevelt Hotel, first December 31, 1929, and has been part of the annual ball drop in Times Square since. 
  2. Where did New Years Resolutions come from? Folks have been making New Year’s resolutions for 4,000 years, believed to have started among the ancient Babylonians. They were making promises to earn the favor of the gods by starting the year off right. Back then, it was more related to paying off debt and returning borrowed farm equipment. They, too, likely dropped their resolutions after a few months. 
  3. The New Year’s Eve Ball Drop at One Times Square started in 1904. This was the year New York Times newspaper relocated to Longacre Square and convinced the city to rename the neighborhood in its honor. The publications’ owner threw a huge party with fireworks at the end of the year. The city banned fireworks in 1907, so a wood and iron ball, weighing 700 pounds, illuminated with 100 light bulbs, was dropped from a flagpole instead. Upgrades over the years now have it weighing nearly 12,000lbs. 
  4. How did we decide January 1 would be the start of the new year? Historically, calendar days have been more about agricultural or astronomical events. In Ancient Rome, the calendar had ten months and 304 days, and each new year began at the vernal equinox. As the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, Julius Caesar came up with a solution. After much consulting of astronomers and mathematicians, he introduced the Julian calendar. January 1 was established as the first day of the year, in part to honor the month’s namesake. ‘Janus’ was the Roman god of beginnings, with two faces to look back into the past and forward into the future. Others followed suit. 
  5. As you enjoy your New Years’ feast and libations, there are some good things to know about staple New Years Celebration Foods. Pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries represent that the year has come full circle. Rice pudding might have an almond hidden inside, and whoever finds the almond can expect 12 months of good fortune. A dozen grapes consumed just before midnight symbolize hopes for the months ahead. Legumes and black-eyed peas resemble coins and are said to prophetic future financial success. Plan ahead for an extra lucky meal. 

As you enjoy your annual New Years Traditions, consider the above. Then, eat for good luck, make those resolutions, think about how that Times Square ball would hold up in Northern Colorado wind, and play at least one round of Auld Lang Syne. 

The above facts came from an article on history.com called ‘New Years’ Eve Festive Facts’:history.com/news/new-years-history-festive-facts.

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