Did you know....
Until 1751, in England and Wales and all British dominions, the new year started on March 25. January 1 took place in 1600 in Scotland. Since then, January 1 has been the first day of the year.
During the Middle Ages several days were randomly taken as the beginning of the calendar year, some in March, September, April and December.
In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and the UK, January 1 is a national holiday.
The Romans dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year, January, is also named. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st day January.
The Time Square New Year's Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875-pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedazzled with 2,668 Waterford crystals.
Due to wartime restrictions, the New Year's Eve ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943.
In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, a life-sized male doll called "Mr. Old Year" who is dressed in clothes from each family member, is stuffed with bad memories of the outgoing year. At midnight he is set on fire in a symbol of burning away the bad memories of the year.
On New Year's Day, people in cities of the Northern Hemisphere who are close to bodies of water, gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. In Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands this is very popular. These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity.
In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year's Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.
A very interesting tradition takes place every year in Wales. A foot race called the Nos Galan Race is conducted to honor the legendary life of Guto Nyth Bran. If you happen to wonder why, following is an excerpt from a poem about the legendary Mr. Bran:
"...One day he caught a hare as he rounded his sheep,
another time he caught a bird in flight, as if it were asleep.
Word soon spread of this talented lad
who could run to Pontypridd in the little time he had,
Before the kettle boiled, Or his breakfast was spoiled,
He'd be back at the farm, having gone 7 miles..."
And finally, New Year's traditions include eating and avoidance of certain foods. Eating black-eyed peas, greens, ham or cabbage are thought to bring prosperity. On the other hand, food such as lobsters, who move backwards mean bad luck as do chickens because they scratch in reverse. So....eat some peas, please?