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View Full Version : Explanations behind New Year’s traditions


annasophia
12-30-2013, 10:39 PM
Staying up until midnight is a mainstay of New Year’s traditions, of course, because there’s something magical about witnessing the passing of another year. In my own home we’d play games and eat treats, often dressed in our pajamas, until we could watch the ball drop on TV. Just recently I ran across JumpinJammerz.com which sells colorful footed pajamas for every age, from child to adult. I wish my family had known about these back then. How fun would it have been for everyone in the family to wear matching pajamas?

I’ve also begun wondering when and where these traditions came from. Ever wonder why we in the U.S. watch a sparkling, lighted ball drop down a pole at midnight each year? Ever hear of the grape-eating tradition of many Spanish-speaking countries? How about the idea that what color underwear you have on at the stroke of midnight could portend what kind of year you’ll have? Every country has its own traditions, and here are the explanations for a few of them.

The New York City New Year’s ball drop
Perhaps the most famous New Year’s celebration in the country centers in Times Square where each year a giant lighted ball begins dropping at 11:59. The tradition was started in 1906 just after fireworks were outlawed from being lighted in New York City. Organizers of the New Year’s Eve events wanted some sort of symbol of the passing year, so they had a 700-pound ball created out of iron and wood that could be lowered on cue. These days, the Times Square website says the ball is 12 feet in diameter, weighing in at 11,875 pounds.

Colorful underwear
Latin and South American countries have an interesting belief: that the color of your underwear can influence how good or prosperous the coming year will be. USA Today said, “Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red will bring love and romance, white will lead to peace and harmony, and green will ensure health and well-being.”

A dozen grapes
A tradition originating in Spain and now practiced in a number of Spanish-speaking countries is that of eating a grape at each stroke of midnight. The 12 grapes symbolize 12 months of good fortune. Jeff Koehler, a cookbook author, gave advice on the best strategy for eating the grapes quickly: “Just take a solid bite and then swallow, pips and all.”

Source:
usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/26/new-years-traditions/4205141/

timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/about-the-new-years-eve-ball/index.aspx#.Ur-krfRDsok

GonzoTheGreat
12-31-2013, 01:54 AM
Wait, what?
Fireworks are outlawed in the USA?

Apparently shooting a "colored kid" with skittles is all right and perfectly safe, but setting off some bangs and flashes is a danger to the public.
"If fireworks are outlawed, then only outlaws will have fireworks." And who can stop an outlaw brandishing fireworks? A law abiding citizen with his (or her) own fireworks could, but they're not allowed to have them, so that solution is out. Which leaves waiting to be saved by the nanny state as the only option.

Weird Harold
12-31-2013, 02:37 AM
Wait, what?
Fireworks are outlawed in the USA?

Apparently shooting a "colored kid" with skittles is all right and perfectly safe, but setting off some bangs and flashes is a danger to the public.
"If fireworks are outlawed, then only outlaws will have fireworks." And who can stop an outlaw brandishing fireworks? A law abiding citizen with his (or her) own fireworks could, but they're not allowed to have them, so that solution is out. Which leaves waiting to be saved by the nanny state as the only option.
Fireworks are permitted in most of the US, just not in New York City. Most of the US has laws requiring "safe and sane" fireworks, but black market bottle rockets and firecrackers aren't that difficult to come by -- even in New York City.

GonzoTheGreat
12-31-2013, 06:12 AM
I had understood that it was not legal to simply buy and light fireworks yourself with New Year (or whatever your Designated Fireworks Time is). Is that wrong, and is it actually allowed for everyone to buy and use firecrackers, rockets and so forth without getting any kind of permit?

Weird Harold
12-31-2013, 02:52 PM
I had understood that it was not legal to simply buy and light fireworks yourself with New Year (or whatever your Designated Fireworks Time is). Is that wrong, and is it actually allowed for everyone to buy and use firecrackers, rockets and so forth without getting any kind of permit?
In New York City, it is illegal for individuals to set off any kind of fireworks.

Elsewhere in the US the laws and ordinances differ; every city, state, county, parish, reservation, or whatever, has different rules and often the rules depend on the weather. The rules also tend to change with every election.

The "Ball Drop" in Times Square, New York City is a consequence of New York City banning fireworks; probably as a result of houses and neighborhoods burning down because of errant rockets. No conclusions about other jurisdictions can be drawn from that fact.

WinespringBrother
12-31-2013, 03:20 PM
In New York City, it is illegal for individuals to set off any kind of fireworks.

Elsewhere in the US the laws and ordinances differ; every city, state, county, parish, reservation, or whatever, has different rules and often the rules depend on the weather. The rules also tend to change with every election.

The "Ball Drop" in Times Square, New York City is a consequence of New York City banning fireworks; probably as a result of houses and neighborhoods burning down because of errant rockets. No conclusions about other jurisdictions can be drawn from that fact.

Fireworks are illegal in all of NY state, but that won't stop people from setting them off during celebrations tonight (I am on Long Island, just east of NYC)

Happy New Year!

Weird Harold
12-31-2013, 04:16 PM
Fireworks are illegal in all of NY state, but that won't stop people from setting them off during celebrations tonight (I am on Long Island, just east of NYC)

Happy New Year!
The big push in this area is an advertising campaign to discourage people from shooting into the air to celebrate the New Year. It is illegal to discharge a firearm inside the city limits at any time, but that doesn't stop the idiots.

New York, California, et al haven't figured out Prohibition never works, whether you ban booze, guns, or fireworks. <shrug>

Happy New Year to all. Please celebrate safely.

Isabel
01-01-2014, 10:15 AM
Anyway, happy new year to all!