5 New Year’s Eve Tidbits

It’s New Years Eve! So you’re probably reading this as you’re waiting for the party to start in a few hours.

But, what’s with all the fuss about New Year’s Eve anyway? Why do people celebrate it so vigorously? When was the first time it was held officially? What are some of the traditions?

If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and are wondering about all these things, you might find some answers in the 5 New Year’s Eve tidbits offered in the lines below.

1. Origins

Mesopotamian Engraving on Wall

The passing to the new year was celebrated as early as 4,000 – 2,000 years BC by the Mesopotamians and other ancient cultures, though they didn’t have a fixed date and relied instead on the first moon appearing after certain events.

The month of January was introduced into the Roman calendar around 700 BC by King Numa Pompilius to honor the God of beginnings and transitions, doors and gates, Janus. He was said to have two faces one looking forward and one looking back.

2. Lights And Bangs

5 New Year's Eve tidbits - the Chinese use of fireworks for celebration (as depicted in the photo) was the first such usage in the world.

The invention of fireworks took place in China in the time of the Tang Dynasty (7th century AD). Since fire and loud sounds were considered by many ancient cultures to ward off demons, fireworks were a nifty conglomeration of both and initially served the same function.

Though nowadays they are used to denote exuberance and the arrival of the new year, it’s good to know that as a side-effect those pesky demons are still kept (perhaps unwittingly) at bay.

3. Midnight = Kissy Time

Kissing at midnight, as shown in the picture, is one of the 5 New Year's Eve tidbits.

The tradition to kiss your partner at midnight or find someone to kiss at midnight if you’re single has its roots in old German folklore.

Though it was more tame there, because the belief was simply that whomever you would meet/see first in the New Year would signal good or bad fortune. So, an enemy or someone whom you despised or were despised by would obviously be bad, while a friend or someone you liked/admired would be good.

Now this doesn’t mean that when you’re at the party with just your best mate (read same sex simply friend) drinkin’ and jokin’ tonight you should go “Whoa! It’s midnight!” and plant a kiss or just gaze intently at no other person. He or she might find it awkward if he or she doesn’t happen to be a student of old German traditions.

4. “This I vow!”

The list of 5 New Year's Eve tidbits includes resolutions, like those presented in the photo.

Yes, yes. Resolutions. We all know them. We’ve all taken them at the beginning of the year. And I’m not going to say that we all broke at least a few during the years (that much is obvious), because one still hopes that this year we’ll be able to keep them and be happier(?) as a consequence.

Just know that they’re not a new thing. In fact, ancient cultures like the Babylonian one are reported to have included New Year resolutions. And since Jesus came into the scene and Christianity became one of the biggest religions, adherents all over were encouraged to think on their past mistakes and sins on the first day of the New Year and try to, you know, not do ’em this year, ok?

So, best of luck! You can do it!

5. Happy Mistake

Champagne bottle being opened.

Is the New Year’s Eve drink of choice for most of the world on, under Western Civilization’s influence.

Who would’ve thought an accident would become so popular and last for centuries?

Because the origins of Champagne lie with some Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire. In 1531, they bottled up some wine which was not finished fermenting and the road to the fizzy drink we love nowadays was opened.

Add to that an English physician and scientist (Christopher Merret) who further developed the recipe into the “methode champenoise” (attested 1662) by adding sugar to produce a second fermentation and then a monk whose name is now known more for the eponymous famous Champagne (Dom Perignon) and you get a drink that’s just right for parties and celebrations.

Cheers to that! And Happy New Year! (sips Champagne)

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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