Before you count down to midnight, flip through these conversation-starters to find out the meaning behind various New Year’s Eve traditions and how people party around the globe.
The first recorded New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years to Babylon, when the first moon after the spring equinox marked a new year. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar created a calendar with Jan. 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor Janus, the month’s namesake and god of beginnings.
Items or food that is ring-shaped is also good luck. This symbolizes “coming full circle”, which is what one year does. Some cultures eat ring-like food through the evening and through the night to ensure that good luck will be bestowed upon everyone who eats. The Dutch often eat doughnuts.
The Time Square New Year’s Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875-pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedazzled with 2,668 Waterford crystals.
In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico families stuff a life-size male doll called Mr. Old Year with memories of the outgoing year and dress him in old clothes from each family member. At midnight he is set on fire – thus burning away the bad memories of the year.
In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.
According to old English and German folklore, the first person you come across in the new year could set the tone for the next 12 months. The superstition doesn’t just apply to singles—if a couple ringing in the new year together doesn’t lock lips, then the future of their relationship might not be all that bright.
If you’re looking to rub elbows with the rich and famous, New York, Las Vegas and Miami Beach are the celebrity hot spots. In Times Square, The Standard Hotel and The Lion tend to attract A-list clientele in NYC.
In the first “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” without the legend himself, ABC will honor the American icon with a tribute by celebrating his life (1929-2012).
- Watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve online
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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner and Women’s Issues Examiner.
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