As Americans and the rest of the world say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018, here are some things Americans do to mark the New Year.
Probably the most widely known is the celebration in New York’s Times Square. The tradition started in 1904 and features a large ball lowered on a poll, reaching the bottom at the stroke of midnight. This year, security is going to be extra tight in the wake of two recent terror attacks in the city. It’s also going to be very cold. Still, thousands will still likely attend.
If you attend a New Year’s event in the U.S., you’ll likely hear the song Auld Lang Syne, which translates to “old long ago.” The poem that was put to music was penned by Robert Burns, an 18th century Scottish poet. According to Scotland.org, the song is about “the love and kindness of days gone by, but …it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take into the future.”
You’ll also see a lot of Americans kissing at midnight in a tradition no one can really explain. Given the news of sexual harassment roiling Hollywood, the media and politics, this tradition might not be around for much longer. However, some think not kissing at midnight will lead to a year of loneliness.
You’re going to need something to eat with all that champagne, and on New Year’s Day, many Americans eat black eyed peas. That tradition comes from the American South where it is believed eating them leads to economic fortune in the coming year. The diminutive legume, which was once only fed to livestock, was a key crop during the Civil War and likely saved many people from starvation.
Some newer traditions come courtesy of a growing Latino population in the U.S. Many Latinos mark the new year by eating 12 grapes, one for each toll of the clock at midnight. Each grape represents a month, and is believed to bring good luck. A South American tradition is for women to wear colorful underwear. Red is the best choice for finding that special someone, and yellow supposedly brings economic prosperity.
As you wrap up celebrating the New Year, beware of driving while intoxicated. Many local police departments conduct so-called sobriety checkpoints, where drivers are randomly pulled over to make sure they’re not intoxicated. A first time violation can lead to stiff fines, restricted driving and even jail.