Before you drunkenly belt out “Auld Lang Syne”, desperately seek out anyone to share a New Year’s kiss, and make some promise that you probably won’t keep beyond January, let’s look at ## things you might not know about New Year’s.
1. All About Me
According to Statisticbrain.com, of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, only one of our most common resolutions is altruistic: “Help Others in Their Dreams”. The other 9 are all about me, or in this case you. Self-improvement and education resolutions account for nearly 50% of the resolutions we make. Weight loss resolutions come in second at close to 40%. Less than 50% of resolutions are still being maintained beyond six months.
Unfortunately, only 8% of us are actually able to claim victory over our resolution.
Of all the numbers that will be bantered about, this one seems low. 22 is the percentage of people who admit to be passed out or fast asleep long before midnight. It is interesting since this is the prime reason for the holiday. That, and finding that one special someone to smooch right after drowning away all of last year’s problems at the bottom of a champagne flute. (Source)
3. Making Babies
It is no surprise that with all the drinking, kissing, and naked street dancing… wait, what? Naked street dancing? All will be explained in #9 so just go with it. Naked street dancing. So, it is no surprise that most babies are conceived during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
According to a New York Times chart, the most popular birthdays occur between 9 September and 24 September. Tracking this back, it would mean that people were getting busy at the end of December. This shouldn’t come as any surprise since the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is as close to statistically perfect for doing some hanky-panky as you can get. Here’s a look at why the odds are in your favor that you’ll be doing more than kissing on New Year’s Eve:
- People are 17 times more likely to have sex at midnight than at 10 am. Couple this with…
- People are 13 times more likely to have sex at night than during the afternoon.
- People are more likely to turn down and invitation to shag if it is too warm. Nearly twice as many than those who turned down the invitation because it was too cold.
- More than twice as many condoms are sold the week before Christmas than the week after.
- 83 percent of Americans feel that rainy days/nights are the best time to have sex.
If this isn’t enough proof, studies have found that prostitution related searches increase 2.78 percent during this time period. Matchmaking websites see a 5.67 percent increase in traffic during January, and Google searches for porn jump 4.28 percent above average in December. We just seem to want to get our groove on. And it doesn’t hurt that most of us are in crowded houses filled with drunken revelers desperately seeking someone to kiss.
4. Have a Ball
American’s, and eventually the world, have been watching a ball drop down One Times Square since 1907. People had been celebrating in Times Square for three years before the first ball drop, and even before this at Trinity Church where they’d “ring in the new, and ring out the old” with the Church and hand bells. There have been seven variations of the famous New Year’s Ball, including the original 700 pound wooden beast.
The Ball has dropped every year since 1907 save two. During the “dimouts” of 1942 and 1943, New Yorkers gathered in a darkened Times Square for a minute of silence and then surrounded by a chorus of chimes from sound trucks at the base of One Times Square. For two years, New Yorkers went back to the old Trinity Church celebrations.
5. Not Always Etched In Stone
The first time New Year’s is celebrated on January 1 came in the year 45 B.C. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar was so FUBAR that it needed to be adjusted. The new Julian calendar would be 365 1/4 days long and so Caesar had to add 67 days to the year 46 B.C. which made the start of 45 B.C. on January 1. Convenient since the god Janus, from which January gets its name, is the two faced god of doors and gates.
But, just because Caesar said so didn’t mean that it was. By the medieval period, most Christian, and pagan, Europeans went back to the old Annunciation Day (25 March) as the beginning of the year. William the Conqueror would try to get the new year back to 1 January, but it had nothing to do with calendric accuracy and more to get Christmas to align with his coronation day. Like most things political, it never came to fruition and 1 January would have to wait until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII created the calendar we use today. With New Year’s on 1 January, leap years, and all.
6. Burning Out The Old Year
When the mellow alcohol buzz and sleep-deprived haze begins to settle over your party, you can always liven things up with an effigy. That is, you can make yourself a life-sized, stuffed, sad old man or, as they do in Panama and a few other Latin American countries, make one of a famous actor or anyone else famous and light it on fire!
In Hungary, they set fire to a scapegoat for all the ills and wrongs that happened the previous year. Called Jack Straw, he is paraded through town and then set aflame on New Year’s Eve. In Panama and Ecuador, they burn “muñecos“–effigies of people who played a significant role in politics, news, or even one’s personal life. These muñecos are created on Christmas and then lit up in a bonfire on New Year’s. Often, these effigies are stuffed with gun powder and fireworks. Just remember to be very careful in whom you chose to make your effigy of, and, for the sake of the hosts, take the conflagration outside.
7. Boxing Day
No, not the day after Christmas where you give gifts to all the peons that schlep all your crap around every, but “boxing” day where you beat the crap out of someone on New Year’s. Somewhere between the excessive amount alcohol consumed–New Year’s celebrations are the most popular drinking day of the year–and the fact that some stranger just smooched the person you came to the party with, nearly 40 percent “of 18- to 25-year-olds said they’ve woken up on New Year’s Day with an ‘unidentified party injury.'” 25 percent of 18-25 year-olds have said they’ve gotten into a fight on New Year’s.
If anyone tries to shame you for fighting on New Year’s, just say that you are celebrating the Peruvian festival of Takanakuy, which literally translates to “when the blood is boiling.” Each year, around Christmas, many Peruvians gather in the local sporting area, from little children to elderly women, to fist fight one another. The purpose of this end of the year celebration is to settle grievances from the previous year–from civil to personal–and hopefully start the New Year with peace and harmony, and to strengthen community bonds. So, next time your in-laws give you crap, clear some space in the living room and duke it out. Just say you are trying to strengthen familial bonds. Happy Takanakuy!
8. Not Always Etched In Stone, Part II
Most calendars used today around the world are based on a lunar or lunisolar cycle so their New Year’s Eve is fluid. For many, including the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, New Year’s happens on the day of the second new moon after the winter solstice. Typically, these New Year’s celebrations occur between 20 January and 20 February.
Though they like to say they have nothing in common, Islam and Judaism share a few things in common, including their calendar. Both calendars are lunar based on 354 days and both start their days at sunrise and end at sunset vs. the Gregorian system of midnight. The Islamic New Year wanders across the calendar and for the next few years will coincide with the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) occurring in September and October. Every 33 years, Rosh Hashanah and the Islamic New Year will occur on the same date. The next time this happens is in 2016-17.
9. All Hail Saturnalia
So, kissing seems to be the one factor that ties all New Year’s celebrations together whether it be getting smacked in the kisser in Peru or smooching at New Year’s eve. But where did the practice of the New Year’s kiss come from?
For singles this New Year’s kiss can be one of the most stressful events of the entire night. The closer the clock winds to midnight, the more frantic the search for kissable lips becomes. Unfortunately, history only heightens the pressure. Like most things we do today, the New Year’s kiss probably comes from the Roman weeks-long festival of Saturnalia celebrated around Christmas. It was an unholy gathering of flesh and wanderlust. Romans celebrated with massive feasts, drinking, singing and dancing in the streets naked, gambling, and other forms of dabauchery. By the medieval period, anxious Europeans would scramble for the perfect person to lock lips with at midnight believing that the first kiss would dictate the type of year you’d have. Also, many of these celebrations were masquerade balls–just a more refined version of naked street dancing and singing–with the masks representing the troublesome past year and protection from evil spirits and the kiss–after removing the mask–representing the change to something good. So, no pressure. You aren’t just looking for the handsome or pretty lips to snack on, you need someone to help purify the evil spirits of the past and set the perfect tone for your future year. Good luck hunting.
10. Not The Night To Go Commando
According to a Vanity Fair/60 minutes fashion poll, nearly 25 percent of Americans admitted that they go commando on some occasions (7 percent of people sitting around you right now are sans undies). However, in many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, going commando sets you up poorly for the next year.
From an old Spanish tradition, it is held that the color of the underwear worn on New Year’s Eve dictates the type of luck you will have in the forth coming year. Red? Looking for love and passion in the new year. Yellow? Wealth is coming your way. Green means a year of good health. White is for peace. Want to be inspired in the new year? Wear purple. So, if your party turns into a Saturnalian orgy of naked street singing, be sure to at least keep your undies on your head so you can set yourself up for good luck next year.