Reading time ( words)
New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, and 2023 is around the corner. Where did the time go? That’s the $64,000 question. We celebrate New Year’s Day, in part, to help us mark the passage of time—sort of a shared experience for the human race.
Humans have been celebrating New Year’s Day for thousands of years, but the party really took off in 45 BC, after Julius Caesar revamped the Roman calendar. From that point until the middle of the 18th century, New Year’s Day in Europe fell on a variety of days, including Dec. 25, March 1, and March 25.
Even today, not everyone agrees on the date of New Year’s Day. The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the traditional Chinese calendar, and usually falls between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20.
Every culture marks the new year with its own traditions. In Brazil, everyone wears white, a color that signifies good luck and prosperity. Merrymakers head to the beach and jump seven waves for good fortune.
In China, the new year is celebrated as the Spring Festival, a 3,500-year-old event that lasts two weeks. In Denmark, residents smash plates and old dishes against their friends’ doors to ward off evil spirits. Colombians ring in the new year by carrying empty suitcases, which they hope will lead to a year filled with travel. In Ecuador, people burn effigies of politicians and celebrities to cleanse the bad energy of “año viejo,” the old year. The Dutch set off fireworks for hours, and set fire to cars and Christmas trees to welcome the new year. They also jump into the frigid North Sea on New Year’s Day.
The Swiss drop ice cream on the floor at midnight to bring good luck in the new year. And New Yorkers stand in freezing weather to watch the 700-pound ball drop in Times Square. (These people are crazy and prepared; some of them wear diapers because there are nowhere near enough bathrooms available in Manhattan.)
In case you were wondering, the new year on Mars begins on its Northward equinox, which most recently fell on Dec. 26. No word yet on how the Martians celebrate New Year’s Day.
However you choose to celebrate it, have a happy new year!