Of course, we all know the New Year begins on January 1. In fact it is nearly the end of 2018. It has been a very special one from this aspect – for the first time in 1000 years, everyone will be 2018. To explain, add your birth year and your age this year and it will add up to 2018 for all persons. I don’t know how this works, but it does.
Our celebration of 2019 will begin the night before on December 31, but it wasn’t always that way. In the years before the reign of Julius Caesar (he became emperor of Rome in 47 BC), some places designated the New Year around the time that festivals occurred. In other countries the New Year started in March when there was equal daylight and darkness. In Egypt it was the time of the annual flooding of the Nile River.
But Julius Caesar decided to rectify the problem and make one calendar for all. He consulted prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time who produced the Julian calendar. It closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses today.
As part of this reform, he set January 1 as the first day of the year, adding enough days to the 304 previously used to coincide with the sun. (All this seems very complicated.) Because over the years the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, who knew? On January 1, the Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to the god Janus and exchanging gifts. Thus we have the name, January.
In modern times, New Year’s Eve has become a big celebration in English-speaking countries with people singing “Old Lang Syne” and making resolutions (most of which are never kept).
The most well known celebration in the country is probably in New York City, where a giant ball is dropped to signal arrival of the New Year. It started as a 700-pound iron and wood structure and later changed to a crystal sphere, 12 feet in diameter and weighing about 12,000 pounds. I never can understand how that gets down safely every year.
In case you are interested in traveling to new surroundings for a New Year’s celebration, I have rankings of the top six places right here for you:
Counting backward, number six is Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s warm there and is described as one of the best celebrations in America. The waterfront has everything for families to do, including carnival rides, a beer garden, food trucks and all kinds of stages presenting entertainment. Of course, in this beautiful climate there’s also the beach. Wow, sounds like a first choice for me.
Number five surprisingly (you’ll notice it’s not number one) is New York City. To see that wonderful ball drop in Times Square, in person, you have to bundle up and stand in freezing temperatures. But it is a fantastic tradition. (I’m still leaning toward the beach!)
Number four is Los Angeles, California. There are mammoth street parties and club crawls, where one ticket lets you just move down the street to one party after another. A free event is in Grant Park, where there are stages with entertainment and food vendors throughout. The weather is also bound to be pretty good for this event.
Now we come to number three, which is all about cold temperatures – Chicago, Illinois. Their big attraction is the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan, where you can see entertainment and enjoy rides and fireworks. But, let me mention that cold weather again.
This choice I really understand. Number two is Las Vegas, Nevada. On New Year’s Eve, the entire strip is shut down to all traffic and transforms into one giant block party. At midnight the casinos have a choreographed fireworks display with music that is said to put the Times Square Ball to shame. The weather might be a little better there than New York, also. Can you tell I prefer warm weather when roaming around in the dark?
Number one on the list of these recommendations is New Orleans. Next to Mardi Gras it’s their biggest celebration. Jackson Square has the largest party in town featuring live music all night long as well as magnificent fireworks displays. Instead of dropping a ball at midnight, as the clock strikes, a giant fleur-de-lis drops slowly from a 25-foot pole on top of a building and fireworks light up the sky to music. The party finishes on Bourbon St. where I hear anything goes.
No matter where or how you bring in the New Year, I wish you much happiness and good health. Really … what more could we ask?
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)