Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's History

This is it!  Tonight at midnight we all say goodbye to the old year and welcomed in the new. We've been celebrating endings and beginnings since ancient times.

The tradition of a New Years Eve celebration stems from old beliefs and superstitions. Noise making goes back to the ancient custom of using loud noises to drive evil spirits from a house during the times of festive celebration.

Many nationalities and cultures still use noise to celebrate. America has her ratchet rattles and noise makers.

Denmark smashes in the New year.  People go to friends houses and throw bits of broken pottery that they have collected throughout the year at the houses.  They also bang on the doors to make noise.

The Dutch love to celebrate New Years.  It was one of their favorite holidays when they settled New Amsterdam in the mid-17th century. When the English took over the city in 1674 and called it New York, the British custom at the time called for celebrating the New Year on the Vernal Equinox, March 25th.  The Dutch populace so loved the holiday on January 1st they convinced the British to move their New year celebration.

Traditions have to start somewhere. The ball dropping tradition at New York's Times Square began in 1904 when the Times Tower was constructed.  At the time it was the city's 2nd tallest building, rising to a height of 375 feet.

Adolph Ochs, the young publisher of the New York times, moved his paper into the new building on New Year's weekend and decided to celebrate the event with a New Year's eve rooftop fireworks display.

It was spectacular, but it was dangerous.  The following year the fireworks were replaced by the decending brightly-lit ball.

A tradition begun.  Have a Happy!

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