Did you know that the celebration of the New Year began with the Babylonians, more than 4,000 years ago? Back then, the new year didn’t begin on January 1st—instead, the Babylonians celebrated on the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the day in late March when night and day are equal in length. And their celebration wasn’t a one-evening affair. Their religious festival, called Akitu from the Sumerian word for barley, was 11 days long. We also owe the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions to the Babylonians: during Akitu, they made promises, hoping to earn the favor of the gods and start the year in their good graces.
Not long after the Babylonians, the ancient Egyptians started celebrating their new year with the annual flooding of the Nile River, which also coincided with the rising of the star named Sirius. The Chinese also celebrated the New Year based on astronomical events: the Chinese New Year begins with the second full moon of the winter solstice.
January 1st didn’t become the date of the New Year until Julius Caesar reformed the traditional Roman calendar (creating the Julian calendar in its stead) and decided to begin each year in “Januarius” to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. Janus’ two faces allowed him to look into the past and future, a fitting quality to begin a new year. The Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with each other, decorating their homes, and attending wild celebration parties.
In modern times, we’ve come up with our own traditions to ring in the New Year. One such modern tradition is the dropping of the ball in Times Square, an event 1 million witness firsthand and 1 billion watch on TV around the world. The ball dropping began in 1904. In that year, the New York Times relocated to Longacre Square and convinced New York to rename it to Times Square in the newspaper’s honor. At the end of the year, the Times threw a massive party, complete with an impressive fireworks display. When NYC banned fireworks in 1907, an electrician put together a wood and iron ball weighing 700 pounds and illuminated with 100 light bulbs that dropped from a flagpole at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
In today’s Times Square celebration, the ball weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter, and is covered in over 2,688 crystals lit by 32,000 LEDs.
Spain (and other Spanish-speaking countries) rings in the New Year by eating 12 grapes right before New Year’s, symbolizing their hopes for the twelve months ahead. In Sweden and Norway, the lucky person to find the almond in his or her rice pudding on New Year’s Eve can expect 12 months of good fortune. In Italy, Germany and Ireland, legumes and leafy greens are consumed in hopes of ensuring financial prosperity in the upcoming year. In Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal, revelers eat pork, symbolizing progress and prosperity, while the Japanese eat long noodles, symbolizing long life. In The Netherlands, Greece and Mexico, ring-shaped pastries and cakes are eaten, showing that the year has come full circle.
*Information Courtesy of History Channel
We’re open from noon to 1:30 am on New Year’s Eve. Walk in with a group of up to six people and receive two hours of Galactic bowling and shoes for $75. Want to add pizza, beverages, champagne, hats or noisemakers? We’ve got special pricing all night long so you won’t break the bank so early in the New Year!
If you want a more upscale New Year’s Eve experience, reserve your lanes in Suite 41 for the Galactic Luxury Package. For $125 you’ll get two hours of Galactic bowling plus shoe rental for up to six people, a pizza and pitcher of domestic beer or soda, a bottle of Champagne or cider and, of course, hats and noisemakers for everyone.
Parents, want to celebrate with your children even though you know their little eyes will be drooping well before the ball drops?
From noon-8 pm, JB’s is designating Suite 41 as Family Time! We’ll be doing a mock-countdown for the kids at 2, 4, 6 and 8 pm. At 8:30 pm, we’ll be turning up the music for our all night long (well, until 1:30 am) Adult New Year’s Eve Bash! (You can reserve your lane(s) with a $50 deposit.)