New Years Traditions

New Years Eve ball drop in New York City

Courtesy of Mark Rollins

New Years Eve ball drop in New York City

Brian McCarthy, Reporter

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There are only a few weeks left in 2018 and although there were some bad times during the year there were plenty of good times. People are beginning to look ahead to December 31, 2018, which is when most people celebrate the end of the year. New Year’s Day is a special holiday because it is independent of any religion or belief, meaning that anyone can celebrate it regardless of their background.

Like most holidays, people have different traditions for celebrating the holiday. Like other holidays, people will use the opportunity to travel. Junior Kelly Menna is one of these people.

“For New Year’s, [my family and I] are going out of the country. We are going to Paris and then to Spain,” Menna said. While some people go on vacation far from home, a significant amount of people simply stay home and celebrate with their families. Junior Colin Melly is one of those folks. His usual routine is one of the most popular events on the holiday.

“On New Years’ Eve, I stay up and watch the ball drop on TV,” Melly said. Melly is talking about the New Year’s icon of the Times Square Ball, in which a ball  reaches the bottom of a pole at exactly midnight on the first day of the new year. The annual event is preceded by live entertainment and widespread media coverage. It is seen by more than one million people live every year.

While some people go to parties or hang out with their close friends, Melly considers his family to be more important.

“I celebrate [New Year’s Day] with my family,” Melly said. They have a tradition that is fairly common but also very special.

“My family usually has a nice dinner at home,” Melly said. Of course, Melly also has plans for the most famous New Years’ tradition there is, New Year’s resolutions.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stay consistent with workouts for soccer,” Melly said. Many people struggle to stick with their resolutions and abandon them after a short period of time. Menna knows this all too well.

“I always make New Year’s Resolutions, but I can’t keep them,” Menna said.

Melly is clearly a believer in the idea that family is what makes the holidays great. Because of this, New Years’ is one of his favorites. As a matter of fact, if he had to rank the day on a 1-10 scale, he would give it a respectable seven out of ten. While this is a good score, there is clearly room for improvement. Melly has some ideas how to make New Years’ more enjoyable.

“I [would not] have school resume right after so it is easier to adjust my sleeping schedule,” Melly said. Last year, school resumed the day after New Years’ to the chagrin of students and teachers throughout Arlington County. This year, there is more vacation time after the New Year.

Of course, there are different traditions for celebrating the holiday. For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, instead of dropping a ball to ring in the New Year, they drop a peach. This is because the centuries-long association between the peach and the State of Georgia.

Different cultures around the world have various traditions for celebrating the New Year. In Spain, people eat twelve grapes in hopes of having good luck in each of the twelve months. People living in cities will gather together to eat grapes together and drink cava.

Meanwhile, in Finland, people predict the coming year by throwing a piece of molten tin into water and interpreting the shape that develops.  A ring would mean that a wedding would take place that year, while a pig would mean that there would be plenty of food.

Perhaps the most unique tradition comes from Greece. On New Year’s Eve, people hang onions on their front doors as a symbol of rebirth. In addition, parents will wake their children up by tapping them on the head with an onion.

In South America, the traditions are just as fascinating. In countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, it is believed that wearing special underwear is lucky. The color red is meant to help a person find love, while the color yellow is meant to help a person become wealthier.

A more intense tradition takes place in Panama. The focus there is driving off evil spirits. To do this, people will burn effigies of well-known public figures like television stars and politicians. However, this tradition is not meant to threaten these celebrities. Rather, the burning effigies are meant to represent the old year.

2018 was a tumultuous year for the entire world. While there were many ups and downs, what is important now is for people to get together with their families and celebrate the new year. Thankfully, in a few weeks, that will be happening all over the world.

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