Read and post comments

A History Lesson on New Year’s Eve

Share

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Delaware Valley University.

As the students at Delaware Valley University relax over winter break, one of the holidays to be excited about is New Year’s Eve. This holiday typically entails dressing in fancy or sparkly attire, going out with family and friends, and watching the ball drop.As the students at Delaware Valley University relax over winter break, one of the holidays to be excited about is New Year’s Eve. This holiday typically entails dressing in fancy or sparkly attire, going out with family and friends, and watching the ball drop.

But do you know the history behind why we create resolutions, pop confetti, and celebrate New Year’s Eve? 

New Year’s Day is a national holiday celebrated on January 1, the first day of the year according to the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Although it’s one of the oldest holidays still celebrated, the exact date and nature of the festivities have changed over time. 

Celebration

In ancient Babylon, people celebrated the new year with an 11-day festival on the first day of spring. Cultures used the sun and moon cycle to determine the first day of the year. But when Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar, the new year began on January 1, which became the day of the celebration. 

The activities held during the celebration differed as well. The New Year’s celebrations held in spring focused on nature, celebrating the Earth’s cycles, but Christian tradition celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on New Year’s Day. Roman Catholics also celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is a feast that honors Mary. 

20th Century

While most of the festivities involved religious celebrations, at the turn of the 20th century, the holiday grew to become its own celebration associated with introspection and relationships. Today, different cultures around the world follow their own traditions. 

Times Square

The year 1904 marks when New York City’s first subway line opened and the first-ever New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.

The New Year’s Eve party in Times Square began with the official opening of The New York Times’ new headquarters. This building, the Times Tower, was the focus of an unprecedented New Year’s Eve celebration thrown by the owner of the newspaper, Alfred Ochs. He spared no expensive at this all-day street festival, which ended with a fireworks display set off at the base of the Times Tower. 

At midnight, cheering, rattles, and noisemakers from the attendees could be heard from miles away. After this party, Times Square became the place to be to ring in the new year in New York City.

When the city banned the fireworks display a few years later, Ochs arranged an illuminated 700-lb iron and wood ball lowered from the Tower flagpole at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908. 

The New York Times eventually outgrew the Times Tower, but New Year’s Eve in Times Square was a permanent fixture.

Keep this fun history lesson in mind as you celebrate 2016! 

Have you come up with your New Year’s resolution? Maybe it’s related to your studies. If so, check out our blog Start Your Second Semester Right or click here to learn more about Delaware Valley University.