New Year's Eve
Every December 31st, most people around the world gather to ring in the new year. From drinking to standing in the cold to watch a glittering ball drop from the top of a building, everyone has their own ways of celebrating New Year's Eve. But have you ever thought about how these traditions came to be?
The Ball Drop
Champagne used to be so expensive that only the upper class of Europe could afford to drink it at their royal parties. As it began to be used in secular traditions instead of religious ones, it became more popular. As time went on, the price declined and began to be marketed towards the middle class in the 1800s. Although, it was still expensive enough to only be consumed for special occasions. When champagne started to be used to christen ships and drink on New Year's Eve between 1800 and 1850, production increased significantly. It was a drink of choice for the new year because it was seen as an aspirational drink. Now those celebrating drink about 360 million glasses of champagne and sparkling wine each year on New Year's Eve.
The first known resolutions happened in Babylon around 4000 years ago. During the 12-day new year celebration, the Babylonians would promise their gods that they'd make good on their debts and return things they owed. Crops were also planted and they crowned a new king or honored the reining king. Broken promise were said to place them on the bad side of the gods.
In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar presented a new calendar where the new year began on January 1st to honor Janus. Janus was a two-faced god that symbolized peering back into the year they were leaving behind while looking forward into the new year. The Romans would promise respectable behavior for the new year.
Now resolutions are mostly secular that relate to themselves and not to any god. They are about self-improvement and setting goals.
English and German lore says that the first person you see and how the interaction goes will set the tone for the upcoming year. Tradition also states that if a couple doesn't ring in the new year with a kiss, that the relationship will be doomed. Furthermore, a single person that doesn't share a kiss is looking at a year of being alone. This could be based on the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay. During the Hogmanay party on New Year's Eve, guests go around trying to kiss everyone else in attendance.