CHARLOTTE, N.C., December 28, 2016 – We officially ring in a new year in a matter of hours so with all the hopes and wishes for a prosperous and joyous 2017 here is some trivia for when that big ball drops in Times Square on Saturday.
1 — A sign of the Times: Might as well begin in the Big Apple which is famous for its Waterford Crystal ball weighing nearly 12,000 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and covered with 2,668 Waterford crystals.
Back in 1907 when the first New York ball was dropped, it was a 700-pound iron and wood ball composed of 100, 25-watt light bulbs. The tradition actually began due to a ban on fireworks in the city.
Only twice has the New Year’s Eve ball failed to drop. Both instances occurred during World War II in 1942 and 1943 because of wartime restrictions.
In case you did not know this last time you visited New York, visitors to Times Square write their wishes on official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti throughout the year. All of the wishes are then gathered together and added to another ton of confettii that showers thousands of celebrants gathered in Times Square each year.
One final note, the top three destinations in the United States to celebrate New Year’s are Walt Disney World, Las Vegas and, of course, New York.
“Start spreadin’ the news!”
2 — Four thousand years of tradition: The month of January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. Of course, the Greeks and Romans had numerous gods, some of which overlapped with different names such as Poseidon (Greek) and Neptune (Roman), Ares (Greek) and Mars (Roman) or Aphrodite (Greek) and Venus (Roman). (Notice that our planets always use the name of a Roman god.)
Janus had two faces, one that looked forward and the other that looked back and, because of this, Emperor Julius Caesar believed it was appropriate for the day. Apparently, being two-faced had a different meaning in ancient times.
Caesar, himself, was responsible for making New Year’s a national holiday.
The ancient Romans had originally adopted March 1st as New Year’s Day until 1582 with the advent of the Gregorian calendar which set the first day of the year as January 1.
Believe it or not, New Year’s was actually celebrated more than 4,000 years ago, or approximately 2,000 years before Caesar decided the annual celebration was good for everyone.
3 — Baby it’s cold outside: Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Father Frost, Kris Kringle or Santa Claus. Nor would New Year’s be proper with the “Baby New Year.”
We are all familiar with the chubby little pink cherub who enters the year wearing only a diaper, a top hat and a sash with the new year embroidered across the front. That legend dates back to 600 B.C. in ancient Greece.
Greek mythology states that he will go from “baby to geriatric patient by the end of the year.”\
4 — Latino pinatas: Perhaps the forerunner to the voodoo doll came from Colombia, Cuba and/or Puerto Rico. In those countries a life-sized male doll known as “Mr. Old Year” is dressed in old clothes donated by each family member. When New Year’s arrives, Mr. Old Year is set on fire to burn the bad memories of the year away.
5 — Southern New Year’s food: The traditional food for New Year’s, especially in the South, is leafy greens and black eyed peas. According to legend, the beans and peas look like coins which, naturally, represent money, and, therefore, predict a good outlook for the year ahead.
There are foods to avoid on the first day of the year, however. Lobster and chicken are regarded as bad luck if eaten on New Year’s Eve because lobsters move backwards and chickens scratch in reverse.
No matter, the black eyed peas make up the difference because more of them are eaten on January 1st than any other day of the year.
6 — Fruits of the loom: OK, so the Italians can take credit for making New Year’s a national holiday but they lose points for this fashion faux pas.
Our passionate demonstrative allies who live in the boot wear red underwear on New Year’s Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.
Even Michael Jordan wouldn’t be seen wearing his red Hanes on the first day of the year.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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