Explanations behind New Year’s traditions
Thread started by annasophia
at 12.30.13 - 8:23 pm
Staying up until midnight is a mainstay of New Year’s traditions, of course, because there’s something magical about witnessing the passing of another year. In my own home we’d play games and eat treats, often dressed in our pajamas, until we could watch the ball drop on TV. Just recently I ran across JumpinJammerz.com which sells colorful footed pajamas for every age, from child to adult. I wish my family had known about these back then. How fun would it have been for everyone in the family to wear matching pajamas?
I’ve also begun wondering when and where these traditions came from. Ever wonder why we in the U.S. watch a sparkling, lighted ball drop down a pole at midnight each year? Ever hear of the grape-eating tradition of many Spanish-speaking countries? How about the idea that what color underwear you have on at the stroke of midnight could portend what kind of year you’ll have? Every country has its own traditions, and here are the explanations for a few of them.
The New York City New Year’s ball drop
Perhaps the most famous New Year’s celebration in the country centers in Times Square where each year a giant lighted ball begins dropping at 11:59. The tradition was started in 1906 just after fireworks were outlawed from being lighted in New York City. Organizers of the New Year’s Eve events wanted some sort of symbol of the passing year, so they had a 700-pound ball created out of iron and wood that could be lowered on cue. These days, the Times Square website says the ball is 12 feet in diameter, weighing in at 11,875 pounds.
Latin and South American countries have an interesting belief: that the color of your underwear can influence how good or prosperous the coming year will be. USA Today said, “Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red will bring love and romance, white will lead to peace and harmony, and green will ensure health and well-being.”
A dozen grapes
A tradition originating in Spain and now practiced in a number of Spanish-speaking countries is that of eating a grape at each stroke of midnight. The 12 grapes symbolize 12 months of good fortune. Jeff Koehler, a cookbook author, gave advice on the best strategy for eating the grapes quickly: “Just take a solid bite and then swallow, pips and all.”