Think throwing a New Year’s bash is a recent tradition? Think again. In the Edwardian era, just like today, people celebrated the coming year with a party. Let’s take a look at the origin of New Year’s traditions. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
Cultures around the world eat foods thought to bring good luck in the new year or circular foods that symbolize the year coming full circle.
Singing “Auld Lang Syne”
Written in the 18th century and set to a folk song melody, this Scottish poem is sung in English-speaking nations at midnight as a send off to the old year. In Scotland and areas with a large Scottish population, the song is often accompanied by a dance. The dance is illustrated in my holiday short fiction “The Final Holiday of Innocence Part Two.”
Dropping the Ball
The tradition of dropping a ball in Times Square, New York, dates back to 1907. The ball was lit by 100 incandescent bulbs. Once the ball dropped, it tripped a circuit which lit up a New Year’s sign. It was the brainchild of the owner of The New York Times who wanted a showstopper to replace the popular firework show he founded in 1904 after the city banned the display.
Parties became popular in the early 20th century. They were generally joyous celebrations with one’s family and friends. Party-goers expected to have a good time and often were kissed at midnight.
Father Time/Baby New Year
The duo began appearing in cartoons in the 19th century. The baby represents the promise of the New Year while old Father Time represents aging or death of the old year.
Generally expresses hope for the coming year.
The Edwardians also sent cards at New Year’s.
Want a glimpse at an early New Year’s celebrate? Visit my Pinterest board New Year’s: 1890-1920.
Updated: 20 October 2020