Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's NEW YEAR's Eve!! Let's party like it's 1999!

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New Year's Eve
December 31st

White Mischief and the Boom Boom Club 

The History of New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve – December 31st – is celebrated in countries using the Gregorian calendar. Australia, British Isles, North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, the former Soviet Union and South Africa are the main regions in the world which welcome in the new year.

Images Via A Collection of Odd
It is exactly at the stroke of midnight on December 31 of the current year that marks the transition to the New Year ahead. Celebrations may be wild parties or solemn times of prayer. Some participants will dress up in silly outfits and wear outlandish hats, drink champagne (or other liquors of their choice) and use traditional items called "noisemakers" to express their joy and hope for the new year ahead.

Yet, there are others who attend midnight masses at their church or synagogue; or, get together in large crowds such as New York City's Time Square to watch the "ball drop." In London crowds gather in Trafalgar Square to count down the closing of the old year and welcome in the new. In Atlanta, Georgia (USA) a giant Peach is dropped. This began as a competition with New York's Big Apple. However, today New York now drops a laser and hand-cut crystal ball.

Image via Gypsy Magic
Some historians feel our New Year's Eve celebrations can be traced back to an ancient Roman observance around the time of the Winter Solstice in December called "Saturnalia." This pagan holiday was known for totally letting go all discipline and rules for behavior and was known to get out of hand – just like some New Year's Eve celebrations today.
In the 18th century, New Year's Eve revelry in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore often ended with street demonstrations, violence, and vandalism. Groups of men and boys were known to toot tin horns, shout, scream, yell, set off firecrackers, knock down barricades such as fences and gates, break windows and in a few cases burglarize the homes of some wealthy citizens in the area.
To help curb the problem of over-zealous celebrators on December 31, and to protect those who want to bring in the New Year quietly, many cities in the United States started a popular trend called "The First Night" celebrations. The first "First Night" was held in Boston in 1976 to replace the boisterous partying with cultural events, performances, and non-alcoholic beverages with food in an outdoor setting.

Two Sleepy People - Jane Russell
Also, there are those who simply prefer to have a quiet but romantic New Year at home. Festivities may include a gourmet dinner and champagne and watch the "dropping ball" or fireworks offered on television. Today TV stations cover the ringing in of the New Year, locally, nationally and worldwide simultaneously. If you can stay awake long enough, you can witness the arrival of the New Year 24 times.

Image via Mattadore


Why do we sing 'Auld Lang Syne' 

on New Year's Eve?

Auld Lang Syne is our midi. The custom of singing this song on New Years Eve goes back to the British Isles from the 18th century when guests ended a party standing in a circle and singing this song. The custom first was rooted in Scotland, because the lyrics were written in 1788 by Robert Burns, their favorite folk poet of the time. Later on another version of this song was used in 1783 in the opera "Rosina" by William Shield. But most musicologists feel Auld Lang Syne came from a traditional Scottish folk melody.
What does this song mean? In the Scottish dialect, auld lang syne is "old long since" – aka "the good old days." The traditional lyrics begin with, "Should old acquantance be forgot and never brought to mind..." And the entire song's message merely means to just forget about the past and look ahead to the new year with hope. Even the rowdiest of parties has often ended with quiet drunks singing this song as a tribute to the past year. But many of us sing it without really now what we are saying, we just sing it to be part of the the auld lang gang of the night! 

Image Via Joe Higgins
Using noise to welcome in a new year goes back to ancient times when it was felt that noise scared off evil spirits. Imagine what our ancestors would have thought about all the high-tech speakers, amplifiers and such today? To them, the world would be pretty pure with all this noise! But vary few of us link New Years with evil spirits spirits that you drink perhaps but not any other kind, they still feel noisemakers are a must for New Year's parties.
In Denmark, they "smash in the new year" by banging on the doors of their friends' homes and throwing pieces of broken pottery against the sides of the houses. Now if everyone is out doing this, then well... hey, is anyone home to even notice? In Japan, dancers go from house to house at Oshogatsu making strange noises and rattling and pounding bamboo sticks and banging on drums. In many parts of the US, firecrackers are set off at midnight to mark the new year. This is also the main celebration in Viet Nam, Hawaii and South America

New Year's Symbols 

Basically, an old man or even Father Time is the symbol of the year that is coming to a close. And, a baby then becomes the symbol for the new year ahead. 
These serve as metaphors for death of one calendar year and the birth of a new one. ...So, 2012, here we come!

Image via Ashscholar

And no, I don't believe 2012 is the end of the world as we know it...

Image via Spicy Tech


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