New Year’s Day….Fact…Fun…Tradition

By  | January 1, 2014 | Filed under: News

downloadSHEFFIELD-Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City, at 11:59 P.M. Thousands gather to watch the ball make its one-minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight. The tradition first began in 1907. The original ball was made of iron and wood and weighed 700 pounds; the current ball is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter. There are over 9,000 LED lights, but uses hardly any energy. The ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943 due to wartime restrictions.

But did you know there are other little known facts that  come from the celebration of the New Year?  Here are just a few of some of the more interesting ways the ringing in of the new and kicking out of the old are celebrated:babalyon

The Babylonians began celebrating New Year’s Day on March 23, around 2000 BC. The end of March was the logical choice for the New Year because it’s the beginning of spring and it’s also when new crops are planted. The Babylonians festivities would last eleven days, and each day was celebrated differently.

romansThe Roman senate declared January 1 as the New Year in 153 BC. Though even this date saw major tampering, it was Julius Caesar who again declared January 1 in Julian calendar as the New Year, in 46 BC.England

In England the first guest to arrive at their home is believed to hold their good fortune. They believe it should be a man bearing gifts, such as coal for the fire or a loaf of bread for the table. The guest will enter through the front door and exit out the back. Any guest who shows up empty-handed or unwanted will not be allowed to enter the home first.

underwearIf you lived in parts of South America, it wouldn’t even be a question. In São Paulo, La Paz, and other spots, people don brightly colored underpants to ring in the New Year—red if they’re looking for love, and yellow for money.red door

As most people already know, the Chinese New Year is not on January 1, but they still celebrate old traditions to ring in their new start. Every front door is painted with a fresh coat of red paint, symbolizing good luck and happiness. Also, families prepare feasts without using knives. All knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone from cutting themselves, because it is thought to cut the families’ good luck for the year.

janusThe first month of the year,  January has been named after God Janus (Latin word for door), in the Roman calendar. Janus is the God with two faces, one looking backwards and one forward, at the same time and marks the ‘spirit of the opening’.noisemakers

Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year’s Eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

 

burnedIn Panama, effigies of popular celebrities and political figures—called muñecos—are burned on bonfires. Other bad-spirit-banishing customs are less fiery and more fun-like the Danish tradition of jumping off chairs at midnight (which gives new meaning to the term “leap year”).

Traditionally, it was thought that people could alter the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what familythey did or ate on the first day of the year. It has, therefore, become important to celebrate first day of the New Year in the company of family and friends.

No matter what your family tradition for celebrating the New Year, we here at The Quad-Cities Daily  hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!

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