• Sweetbriar Rose

History of New Year's Eve Traditions

Do you have everything ready for New Year’s Eve tonight? If you’re like most people, there are several things you do every year. Maybe you have black-eyed peas or kiss your sweetheart at midnight, or toast with a bubbly glass of champagne. Whatever your tradition, there is probably more to it than you realize...

The Midnight Kiss

If you kiss your partner at the stroke of midnight, you are joining with billions throughout history. Historically, many cultures thought times of transitions were times when evil spirits preyed on humans. An excellent way to combat these evil spirits was being close to someone. What better way to be close to someone than kissing?

Kissing at midnight, however, came from the English tradition of saining, or offering a blessing during Yuletide. A kiss at midnight was considered a fantastic way to bring good luck to people as they entered the New Year.

A Bubbly Toast

Whether you ring in the New Year at a fancy party, or home with friends or family, you most likely pop a bottle of champagne for a toast at midnight. But when did this sparkling drink become the go-to celebratory drink for New Year’s?

The use of champagne, or any sparkling drink, during a celebration can trace its roots back to early Christian history. Jesus himself instituted using wine during the Eucharist. In 496, champagne was used to baptize a Frankish warrior. After that, wines from the Champagne region were used at consecrations and coronations. After the French Revolution, champagne became part of secular rituals, such as christening a ship.

By the late 1700s, the French had added bubbles to their infamous Champagne-region wine and were famous for spectacular parties. Champagne and other affordable but sparkling alternatives became famous as the purchasing power of the middle class increased. Now, a party isn’t a party, and a toast isn’t a toast without some bubbly.

Auld Lang Syne

Do you sing this song on New Year’s? Originally a Scottish poem and attributed to Robert Burns in 1788. The melody, however, is a very old folk song in Scotland and Burns simply set the words to this tune.

Burns himself said he was motivated to write the words after hearing an old man singing the song, as well as other variations that had been around since the early 1700s.

The literal translation is “old long times,” but it more means, “once upon a time.” It has long been a notable aspect of British and Scottish funerals and farewells. However, the Guy Lombardo orchestra played in New York in 1929. The rest is history.

The Ball Drop

If you have never been to Times Square to watch the ball drop in person, chances are you have tuned in on television. The idea of a ball drop comes from sailors who used time balls to set their timepieces while they were at sea. They would scan the shore and watch for balls dropped into the water at particular times.

Portsmouth, England installed the first time ball in 1829. Washington DC followed shortly after in 1845. It was not until 1904 that a ball was even present in Times Square, and one didn’t drop until 1907. It was dropped that year because fireworks were banned and people wanted a sparkly replacement.

There have been seven balls since the original one made from wood and iron and lit by 100 light bulbs. Today, the ball weighs six tons, and twelve feet in diameter and gets its shine from 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights.

New Year’s Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions date back to the Mesopotamians. The Babylonians and Romans both made resolutions and oaths to their rulers in March, when their years started. By the 1740s, the Methodist Church was holding renewal services on December 31.

Whatever you decide to make for a resolution, if you make any, the idea is to strive to be a better person and right the wrongs of the past year.

Lights and Noisemakers

People around the world love to celebrate the New Year with fireworks, sparklers, and noisemakers. Remember the danger that lurks during transitional periods which necessitate a kiss to keep loved ones near? It’s the same idea with fireworks and noisemakers.

Noise and flashing lights originally were intended to keep evil spirits away. Some cultures bang drums, others blow horns, many light fireworks. All of this commotion is aimed to protect you and your family.


Many traditions are steeped in the idea of money. The Turks wear red underwear, run the faucet, and leave some salt on their doorstep. The Swiss place drops of whipped cream on the floor. Filipinos wear polka dots. All of these things stem back to hoping for prosperity.

In America, in particular, the South, people eat black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. Each of these foods is consumed specifically to usher in wealth in the New Year as they represent coins, dollar bills, and gold.

However you celebrate the New Year in your house, we sincerely hope and pray you enjoy this special time with family and friends. We hope to see you in the New Year at Sweetbriar Rose. We will be open on Thursday, January 3 for regular business hours at 10:00 am.

We will be open Thursday and Friday from 10:00 to 5:00, Friday from 9:00 to 6:00, and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00.


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