5 facts about New Year’s Eve

  • Kelcie Willis
  • Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Dec 27, 2017

As the roller coaster year that was 2017 comes to a close, plans for New Year’s Eve celebrations are underway.

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Before “Auld Land Syne” begins to play, here are five facts about New Year's Eve:

New Year's Eve wasn’t always Dec. 31

Different cultures celebrated the new year at different times of the year. CNN reported that some cultures considered the autumn equinox, or winter solstice, to be the start of the new year. Babylonians held an multi-day festival to celebrate the new year around the spring equinox.

The first New Year’s Eve celebration in what is now Times Square was in 1904

According to PBS, New Year's Eve celebrations moved to the New York Times building in 1904 in Manhattan. There was no big time ball, but there was a midnight fireworks display. Prior to the move, spectators rang in the new year at Trinity Church in Manhattan as bells chimed and marked the end of one year and the beginning of another.

The time ball tradition in NYC emerged when fireworks didn’t go very well

Fireworks from efforts of The New York Times Company to bring spectators to its building caused hot ash to descend on the city streets. The New York Police Department banned fireworks soon after, and The New York Times' chief electrician created the time ball for the celebrations instead. The first ball drop celebration occurred December 31, 1907, on top of what was at the time the Times Tower and One Times Square.

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Different foods have different meanings when cooked around this holiday

In the southern United States, collard greens and black-eyed peas are prepared for money and good luck, respectively. Similar meanings hold true for leafy greens and legumes in Ireland, Germany and Italy.

In Japan, long noodles are an indicator of a long life. Ring-shaped cakes in Mexico, Greece and other places around the world indicate the year has come full-circle.

“Auld Lang Syne” was never meant to be a holiday song

Most experts say the song “Auld Lang Syne” written by Robert Burns in 1700s, according to ABC News. The song was popularized by Guy Lombardo when it was used as a segue between radio shows at midnight in 1929, although the midnight timing was not on purpose.