The song most associated with New Year’s is “Auld Lang Syne.‘ It was written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1741 and first published in 1796 after Burns’ death. Burns put words to a folk melody that was already popular in Scotland and it has become the standard for bringing in the New Year. “Auld Lang Syne‘ literally means “old long ago‘ or, in modern English, “the good old days.‘
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and you’re looking for something to munch on at the New Year’s Eve party, try celery. It actually has negative calories, meaning it takes more calories to eat the celery than the celery has in the first place. Apples are the same way.
The top 10 resolutions are usually to lose weight, eat more healthily, exercise more, stop smoking, stick to a budget, save money, get more organized, be more patient, find a better job and to just be a better person overall. These days, another resolution is not to spend so much time on your mobile device.
The date of Jan. 1 for the New Year goes back to Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor who ruled a generation before Jesus was born. His calendar, authorized in 46 B.C., used the 365-day solar calendar as its basis and became known as the Julian Calendar.
The Gregorian calendar was introduced in October of 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a revised version of the Julian calendar. It took almost 350 years for the world to get on board. Turkey didn’t make the switch until 1927.
More than 100 million Americans will watch the New York City New Year’s Eve bash on TV. In total, about 56% of people in the U.S. will see the Times Square event. The ball drop will also be broadcast live in many other countries, including Spain, China, Germany, Japan, Portugal and Venezuela.
About 2,000 pounds of confetti is dropped on the crowd in Times Square at midnight.
The tradition of dropping the ball in Times Square is more than 100 years old. The first time the ball was dropped in Times Square was 1907. The idea of dropping the ball as a signal of the passing of time was taken from the English Royal Observatory at Greenwich, which started that particular tradition in 1833. The “time ball‘ was dropped from the Royal Observatory each day at 1 p.m. to help ship captains coordinate their navigation equipment. Similar balls were set up in coastal areas around the world.
But time balls are not the only things used to usher in the new year. In Miami, a giant orange is dropped leading up to midnight. In Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the residents drop a giant wrench and in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the residents bring in the New Year with the dropping of a giant Hershey Kiss. And in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, they drop … you guessed it … a giant pickle!
Americans drink around 360 million glasses of sparkling wine on New Year’s. Corks can fly out of the bottle at a speed of 25 miles per hour, so it’s best to open bottles at a 45-degree angle (away from yourself and others).
In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long. The tradition dates back to medieval times.
Many parts of the United States observe the tradition of eating pork and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.
The island nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific, also known as Christmas Island, rings in the new year before anyone else.
There is a New Year’s Eve event held each year on the continent of Antarctica (where they are just entering the summer season but it is still frigid!). The annual IceStock music festival is held at McMurdo Station where the local population balloons to over 1,200 people during their summer months.
The late Dick Clark was associated with New Year’s Eve and hosting the dropping of the ball on TV for 30 years, from 1973 to 2003. Before Dick Clark, the name most associated with New Year’s Eve in the U.S. was probably Guy Lombardo, whose band ushered in the New Year in New York for decades.
The first ball that was dropped in New York in 1907 was made of iron and wood and decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. It was 5 feet in diameter and weighed about 700 pounds. The ball has been replaced seven times through the years, the last time in 2008. The new ball weighs nearly 12,000 pounds and is a 12-foot geodesic sphere covered in 2,668 Waterford crystals.
The ball has dropped every year since 1907 except for two: 1942 and 1943, during World War II. More than 1 million people turn out in Times Square for the New Years Eve celebration each year. Roughly a fifth of them will be visiting from another country.