New Year Party Vault
New Year's History
Over 2000 years ago, it is believed that the Ancient Babylonians began their New Year with the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox. A logical time to celebrate, spring brings with it new growth and has always been symbolic of hope and the promise of things to come. The Babylonians feasted for eleven days, each day with its own festive theme.
Fast forward to Julius Caesar who (during a visit to Egypt around 150 BC) found the calendar of his dreams. The Romans tried to follow the same cycle as set by the Egyptians with the New Year beginning in spring. But scholars and emperors continued to fiddle with the calendar until it fell out of synchronization with the sun. The Roman senate, in an attempt to get everything back on track, named January 1 as the first day of the year. It was eventually called the Julian Calendar. Still the calendar was constantly being revised and manipulated by various people, until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar set the dates in stone and offered a clear distinction of the four seasons. The Gregorian Calendar is what most of the Western world uses.
New Year's Traditions Around the World
Our friends around the world have wonderful traditions for welcoming the New Year.
In Rio de Janeiro, people go to the beaches to watch fireworks and take a midnight dip in the water, offering flowers and a wish to the goddess Lemanja.
The English look to the "first-footer," or the first person to step foot into their house, to tell them how next year's luck will be. New Year's Day marks the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece, where children leave their shoes out to be filled with gifts. St. Basil's Bread is baked with small trinkets inside, bringing luck to those who find them.
Italians hang mistletoe over the front door to bring good luck.
Women in Mexico wear red underwear if they wish to marry in the New Year, and pink is worn by pregnant women to bring luck to the baby. Those hoping to travel, carry an empty suitcase around the block.
Many people in Spain and Latin countries eat 12 grapes at midnight, as a bell is rung 12 times. Each grape represents a month of the year. By eating them at midnight one hopes to have happiness and luck for the next 12 months.
Baby New Year and Father Time
The tradition of a "Baby New Year" is said to have started in Greece around 600 BC. In celebration of Dionysus, god of wine, a baby in a basket represented the annual rebirth of the god as the spirit of fertility. An obvious correlation, today Baby New Year symbolizes the young year, and old Father Time reminds us how the year has aged. However, it was the 14th century Germans who are credited with having a New Year's banner with the image of a baby as a symbol of the New Year.
Since 1904, Times Square in New York City has been a hot spot for New Year's Eve celebrations. Originally, the owners of the square held rooftop parties, and now the streets are flooded with people nose-to-nose in the freezing cold just to watch the big ball drop. The first time the ball took the plunge was on New Year's Eve 1907! Back then, the Times Square Ball was made of iron and wood and decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. Today, half a million people gaze at the sphere made of Waterford crystal and lit by 600 bulbs as it drops from the top of a skyscraper at midnight. For years, adored TV veteran, Dick Clark, hosted the event, broadcasting live from Times Square. Currently, a group of hosts join him in the celebration.
The Legend of the Midnight Kiss - What It Might Foretell
- The midnight kiss is one of the nicest ways to ring in the moment of the New Year's significance with those nearest and dearest.
- Like kissing under the mistletoe, the custom of the kiss can be traced back to the Ancient Roman merry making festival of Saturnalia, and observances around the Winter Solstice at year end (those Romans sure liked to celebrate with a kiss!).
- Later, the New Year's Eve kiss would come to be a barometer for things to come.
- As English and German legend had it, the first person you came in contact with when the bells chimed twelve, be it a familiar, friendly face or inauspicious acquaintance, set the tone for your happiness and fortune in the coming year.
- A kiss with one you loved ensured affections and good tidings. To
smooch someone less favorable, or not at all, could mean misfortune.
In more recent times, the good luck ritual of the kiss has become a telling sign for matters of love and the heart - will this be the year that all my romantic wishes come true?
- With expectations like that, there are those who may want to make plans to ensure they will be kissing someone sweet - we wouldn't want the next year to leave us out in the cold!
Liveliness in a glass, a Champagne toast at midnight is a much-loved tradition. Probably French in origin, something bubbly be it Champagne or sparkling water is always a festive way to commemorate a special occasion.
Auld Lang Syne
How many times have you found yourself on New Year's eve, be it at a party or home watching the ball drop singing "Auld Lang Syne", and wondering as you mouthed those odd yet familiar words - "whatever does this song mean?"
Written in 1788 by the favorite Scottish folk poet Robert Burns, "auld lang syne" translates to "old long since" - the olden days way of saying "the good ol' days". The song speaks to letting go of the past, and looking ahead to the next year with hope - a very fitting sentiment for the night. So this year when you sing, "Auld Lang Syne", take a moment to reflect on the last twelve months, while setting sights on welcoming the next twelve with a wonderful kiss!
Countdown: Planning is the secret to a successful party. Once everything is thought out, your party will run smoothly.
Decide on the date, time, place, and number of guests for your
party. Start by buying or making
Two Weeks Ahead: Phone, email or mail the invitations. If you're mailing them, be sure to ask for an R.S.V.P. so you'll know exactly how many to expect. Make plans for the menu, activities, gifts (or prizes), and decorations. If you're planning to include any games, be sure to plan more than you'll have time for. This allows you to go on to another game if your guests aren't having fun.
One Week Ahead: Make or purchase the party favors, prizes, and decorations. The big day will be here before you know it.
Three Days Ahead:
Double-check the final guest list and make a tentative schedule for what
you'll be doing at the party. Shop for the food.
New Year's Eve Party Packages
Here are our most popular New Year's items. Be sure to come in to the store of your choice early, as these always sell out fast!
And, we can even start your new year off right with an assortment of beautiful calendars ... all at $1.49 each!
New Year's Eve Recipes
Twelve grapes and a glass of sparkling cider or champagne!
Sparkling Champagne Punch
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen cranberry
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen pink
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade
1 (750 milliliter) bottle white wine, chilled
1 liter carbonated water, chilled
2 (750 milliliter) bottles champagne, chilled
1 lemon - sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint, garnish
|1.||In large punch bowl, combine the cranberry juice concentrate, pink lemonade concentrate, limeade concentrate, white wine, club soda and champagne. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint leaves.|
"A cheesy and creamy hot dip best served in a bread bowl or spread on toasted bread."
1 cup water
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper
|1.||Bring the cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat and add the 1 cup of diced red pepper and the chopped spinach. Bring the water back to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and simmer until the pepper is very soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the spinach and red pepper in a colander, pressing out as much liquid as possible.|
|2.||Combine the cream cheese and milk in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot and softened. Stir in the cooked spinach and red peppers, Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and ground black pepper. Continue to stir until well combined and heated through.|
|3.||Spoon hot dip into a serving dish and serve with the tablespoon of finely diced red bell pepper sprinkled on top for garnish.|