How Popular New Year's Eve Traditions Started

How does your family celebrate New Year’s Eve? Many families include a mix of old traditions and new ones that are specific to them. Do you know how some of the old traditions got started? Here is a look at the story behind the traditions you participate in on New Year’s Eve.

Auld Lang Syne
This song began as a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. The phrase “Auld lang syne” translates to “old long times” in English. Other interpretations include: “days gone by” or “old times”.

The poem was set to a traditional Scottish folk melody after Robert Burns sent his manuscript to the Scottish Musical Museum. On January 1, in 1929, Guy Lombardo and his orchestra sang “Old Lang Syne” at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. This is why Americans sing the song on New Years Eve today.

Champagne at Midnight
Imbibe Magazine points out that celebrating the arrival of the new year with champagne began in Europe and was brought to America with European settlers. By 1800, it was common to stay awake until midnight, and then go from house to house for drinks.

Sales of sparkling wine hit 6 million in 1850 and 28 million by 1900. The newly formed middle class drank champagne on New Year’s Eve to flaunt their aspirations. In 1910, a French restaurant in New York City was reputedly the first place to go “champagne only” after 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

Watching the Ball Drop
On New Year’s Eve, people gather in Times Square, in New York City, to watch the ball drop. This tradition started in 1907, as a replacement for fireworks that had been banned by the police.

The New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs asked his chief electrician to create an equally sparkly alternative to fireworks. The electrician made a wooden and iron orb that was adorned with 100 25-watt lightbulbs.

Related Articles at

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* New Year’s Day Postcards

* New Year’s Resolutions – The Beginnings

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