35 Fun New Year’s Facts to Brush up on the Holiday’s History
It’s no secret that the arrival of a new year has long been associated with all kinds of New Year’s traditions. People all around the world take the time to prepare good luck foods, make the perfect champagne toast at midnight and dress up in their favorite glittery outfits, all in the spirit of the holiday. But with all of that fanfare, the meaning behind each of these New Year’s activities can become easily lost in the mix.
There is so much fascinating New Year’s history to consider. Like, how did the idea of Baby New Year come about? When was the very first ball drop in Times Square? How did the holiday come to be and how is it celebrated around the world? Well, before you get sucked into a Google rabbit hole trying to answer all of these questions, we’ve pulled together some of the best New Year fun facts that will introduce you to some of the most interesting things you never knew about January 1.
1. Over 50 tons of trash are left in Times Square after New Year’s Eve celebrations.
About 3,000 pounds of that is confetti — that’s a lot to clean up!
2. The confetti dropped in Times Square is holding secret messages.
The confetti in Times Square has thousands of people’s wishes written on them. In 2015 “wishfetti” became a part of the tradition. People write their wishes for the new year and submit them to the Wish Wall in Times Square (or online) and those wishes are turned into the confetti that falls over the crowd at midnight.
3. Many Brazilians welcome the New Year at the beach.
It is considered good luck to make seven wishes while jumping seven waves — so you can count on a good old New Year’s beach party down in Rio de Janeiro!
4. If you hear plates breaking in Denmark on New Year’s Eve, it’s considered good luck.
The Danes hold a tradition of throwing plates at the front door of family and friends’ homes to welcome good fortune for the new year.
5. ABC’s ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ show is a long standing tradition.
Dick Clark began hosting the show in 1974. In December 2004, Clark suffered a stroke and Regis Philbin stepped in at the last minute to host. In 2005, Clark officially handed hosting duties over to Ryan Seacrest.
6. Most New Year’s resolutions aren’t taken too seriously.
Nearly 80% of resolutions made at the beginning of the year are forgotten by February. So no worries if you need to restart!
7. You can thank a pope for making our new year start on January 1.
The Gregorian calendar was introduced in October of 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a revised version of the Julian calendar. It took almost 350 years for the world to get on board. Turkey didn’t make the switch until 1927.
8. The reason January is called January is actually kind of deep.
It’s been widely reported that the month was named for the Roman god Janus, but it’s actually rooted in the Latin word “ianua,” which means door. The name was chosen to symbolize the opening of a new door that happens when the new year begins.
9. Baby New Year is actually really old.
Baby New Year has been a symbol of the holiday since around 600 B.C., starting in ancient Greece when an infant was paraded around in a basket in celebration of Dionysus, the god of fertility (and wine). The baby represents a rebirth that occurs at the start of each new year.
10. Time balls were invented to help sailors.
Long before it was used on New Year’s Eve, a ball on top of England’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich was dropped at 1 p.m. every day (starting in 1833) to help ship captains coordinate their navigation equipment. Similar balls were set up in coastal areas around the world.
11. The first Times Square New Year’s party was thrown for a newspaper.
The annual tradition of gathering in Times Square for New Year’s started as a party to celebrate the opening of the New York Times building in 1904. Over 200,000 people attended.
12. The Times Square ball’s weight has yo-yoed.
The original ball was made from 700 pounds of iron and wood. It was later reduced to just 400 pounds of wrought iron before they switched to an aluminum frame in 1955. The now 11,875 pound ball didn’t get its new look (and materials) until the millenium when Waterford partnered with Philips Lighting to create a shimmery LED display.
13. Waterford comes up with a new ball pattern every year.
The sphere is made up of 2,688 crystal triangles and has over 32,000 lights. It also displays over 16 million color patterns.
14. The New Year’s kiss started with the Romans.
Although things got a little friskier back then, ancient Romans are credited with the kissing tradition because of their Saturnalia festival. It was a celebration honoring Saturn, the god of time, where all social norms went out the window. Many of the celebrations influenced the Christmas and New Year’s festivities that became the focus when Christianity took over the Roman Empire.
Excerpts and photo taken from an article previously published by Good Housekeeping, written by: Adam Schubak and Cameron Jenkins.