The History of New Years

Lexi Healey, Contributing Author

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To many, News Years is considered the most exciting holiday. The welcoming of the New Year, a fresh start, a second chance. A day spent with family and friends, filled with games, food, laughter, and anticipation. An important part of New Years/New Years Eve are the traditions. The sharing of resolution in hopes this year will be better than the next, watching the ball drop with the ones close to you to assure you start the new year with your loved ones, and a toast to assure good things in the days yet to come. These are all factors that make News Years and New Years Eve truly exciting, but how did this tradition packed holiday come to be?

The Roots of New Years

The eleven day Mesopotamian New Years celebration; Akitu.

The tradition of New Years is said to go back over thousands of years ago. The earliest recorded celebration was is Mesopotamia (around 2000 B.C). At this time, the New Year was not celebrated in the start of January, but in Mid March (the vernal equinox). Which was the start of a new year according to their calendar time. An eleven day festival was held leading up to New Years, where rituals were performed, celebrating “the religious victory of the sky god Marduk over the sea goddess Tiamat and either crowned a new king or allowed their old king to continue his reign”. However, as time passed the new year began to be celebrated in January, in regards to the god Janus, who is able to look both back into the past and into the future.

How Traditions Came to Be

The New Years Eve ball drop in Time Square.

One of the most popular New Year’s traditions is the New Years Eve ball drop in Times Square, NYC. This event goes way back to the 19th century, the first ball drop was held on December 31, 1907. At the time, New York welcomed the new year by doing a firework show in NYC. When the display later was banned in 1905, the people had to find a new way to celebrate. The owner of the New York Times Magazine, Adolph Ochs, suggested the idea of “the ball drop”. This idea, however, was inspired by the Telegraph’s Time Ball, which was dropped at noon each, as a way to welcome a new day.  Another very popular tradition that is making New Years resolutions. This idea has been around since the first New Years celebration, however, they started off as prayers to god for good things to come in the new year.

 New years has been changed and reshaped overtime to become the holiday we know and love. Enjoy the new year!