New Year’s Eve marks the start of something new and the bittersweet goodbye to the past presented in just a one-minute long countdown. The world holds its breath as one year becomes the next. Neighbors shout, “See you next year!” to each other on December 31st as if it is their first time saying it. Cities mark the occasion across the world with fireworks and all kinds of celebration. When people think of New Year’s Eve in the United States, New York City is the first thing that comes to mind. Every New Year’s Eve Times Square is packed even tighter than normal. Eager, rosy faces ignore the chill in the air and countdown along with families snuggled up on the couch watching the festivities from their televisions. This New York tradition has been in practice since 1907 and has become a solid part of New York’s history. The crowd in Times Square feels the electric energy in the air as the ball drops inch by inch.
New Year’s celebrations actually started 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon civilizations according to the HISTORY CHANNEL. Originally the new year was celebrated in March until Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar marking January 1st as the official start of the new year. Janus the Roman God (for which January is named after) has two heads. This gives him the ability to look towards the future while also looking back on the past.
We have come a long way from the first New Year’s Eve, but one thing remains the same–it is a time for people to reflect on the past year. This includes the good moments, the bad times, and the hopeful ways we can improve upon them in the upcoming year. Just like Janus, we look in both directions of our lives. Living in New York City makes it easy to keep going and going without taking a break, but there is something special about taking a moment to celebrate the past and embrace the future.
On the other hand, there is an undeniable pressure that everyone feels when it comes to New Year’s Eve. Add in the fact that we live in the city that never sleeps–the pressure is really on to do something fun. Maybe it is how it is represented in movies, but the romanticism of New Year’s Eve is alive and well, even in 2019. While some may feel the need to go out, others are desperate to stay in away from the pushy crowds, cold winds, and tourists. One has to wonder, what makes New Year’s Eve so great? What makes it turn so terrible some years?
At the core of New Year’s Eve lies this: even the loneliest feel hope. The new year is a new start. The winter snow covers the city, providing a perfect clean slate over everything it touches. For a brief moment- the clock stops, and the world takes a collective pause. The only sound that can be heard is the last inhale of breath before the year starts once again. By the time the exhaled breath turns into steam on screaming lips, the new year is here. It is time to begin again. That is the magic of New Year’s Eve and why we try so desperately every year to capture it. When the magic of New York City and New Year’s Eve collide even for just a brief moment, all we could hope for is possible.