History of New Year's Eve Traditions

Posted by Ciara Moosman on Jan 12, 2015

In Activities, Main

Happy New Year's! Here a few fun facts we bet you didn't know.

Over the last 4,000 years, New Year's wasn't always celebrated on the 1st of January. The original New Year's celebration, the massive Babylonian religious festival of Akitu, was held every year around the Spring Equinox. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar that was synced to the sun instead of the moon. This officially moved New Year's celebrations from March 1st to January 1st.

In the middle ages, the Christian church did away with many of the ancient Roman festivals because of their Pagan roots. As a result, New Year's was celebrated on various days throughout medieval Europe.

Finally, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII overhauled the calendar system again. The Gregorian calendar, which we still use today, restored January 1st as New Year's Day. Even today, some countries and cultures follow a lunar, not solar, calendar and hold their New Year's celebrations through different times of the year.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the first day of Muharram, the start of the Islamic calendar year, are both celebrated in the fall. And the Chinese New Year, which lasts for a whole month, begins in late January or early February.

New Year's traditions also vary from country to country. In Spain, people eat 12 grapes in the seconds leading up to midnight. Other cultures also eat special foods for New Year's. Greeks eats ring-shaped cakes with gold or silver coins baked inside. In China, a dumpling represents hope for an auspicious new year. And in Japan, long buckwheat noodles symbolize long life.

Since 1904, crowds have packed Times Square for one of the most famous New Year's traditions of all: the dropping of the ball. At midnight, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the mesmerizing, kaleidoscopic effect with nearly 16 million vivid colors and billions of pattern.

From champagne and fireworks, to resolutions and fresh starts. New Year's has always been many things to many people and it has a long and colorful history that we bet you didn't know!