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How the party started

  • COUNTDOWN ENTERTAINMENT LLC Times Square in New York City will come alive tonight during the annual New Year's Evecelebrations. The history of New Year's can be traced back thousands of years and has become one of the largest party days of the year.
    COUNTDOWN ENTERTAINMENT LLC Times Square in New York City will come alive tonight during the annual New Year's Evecelebrations. The history of New Year's can be traced back thousands of years and has become one of the largest party days of the year.
Published December 31. 2013 05:01PM

When the ball drops in Times Square at midnight, millions of Americans will again make their New Year's resolutions.

Some will resolve to lose weight; while others will promise to save money.

But, after the confetti is cleaned up in Times Square, the New Year's Eve Ball again sits silently atop the One Times Square building and the days of 2014 tick on, many of those resolutions will fall by the wayside.

So how did New Year's celebrations become such a big "to do" in the world, and why do we make New Year's resolutions knowing that we will probably break them?

The history of New Year's celebrations

According to the History Channel, New Year's celebrations date back 4,000 years to ancient Babylon, when Babylonians honored a new year's arrival in late March. The "new year" began on the spring equinox.

During each new year celebration, which was marked by an 11-day religious festival called Akitu, the Babylonians celebrated the mythical political victory of the sky god Marduk over Tiamat, an evil sea goddess. They also promised their gods that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

Other cultures of the time also made promises to their gods during their new years, which, depending on civilizations, coincided with various events.

For example, the History Channel explains that the Chinese celebrated the new year after the second new moon after the winter solstice, while the Egyptians' new year began with the rising of the star Sirius, which caused the River Nile to flood.

New Year's Day

is moved

It wasn't until 46 B.C. that New Year's Day became a static date, Jan. 1.

According to the History Channel, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar met with astronomers and mathematicians in the hopes of resolving the current calendar, which had become unaligned from the sun in 153 B.C., after former king Numa Pompilius added the months of January and February to the then-10 month year.

Following the research of the astronomers and mathematicians, Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which added 90 extra days to the year and realigned the Roman calendar with the sun.

Caesar also announced that Jan. 1 would be the first day of the new year in honor of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Celebrations included offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts, decorating their homes, and hosting parties, states the History Channel. It also included making resolutions for self-betterment.

The new year was temporarily replaced by Christian leaders and reestablished in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

New Year's

in America

As the centuries passed, New Year's celebrations continued throughout the world, but it wasn't until 1904 that an official, established New Year's celebration was created in New York City's Times Square to help ring in the new year.

According to the Times Square Alliance, the official site of Times Square, the bash, which has grown to epic proportions and is now the symbol of New Year's Eve in America, coincided with the opening of The New York Times new headquarters.

The all-night party was the brainchild of then-New York Times owner Adolph Ochs, who wanted to host a party that would go down in the history books and included a daylong festival on the eve of the new year, ending with a fireworks display at midnight. During that first party, over 200,000 people attended.

The party was so well received that Ochs began to make it an annual event to mark the coming of the new year. In 1907, New York City officials banned the use of fireworks in the city limits.

Because of this ban, a 700-pound, five-foot wide iron and wood ball that was illuminated with 100 25-watt bulbs was created that would "drop" from the flagpole on top of the Times Tower at midnight.

The ball, which according to the Times Square Alliance, now weighs just under 12,000 pounds and is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights, has become the highlight and inspiration of many celebrations throughout the country.

New Year'sresolutions gainin popularity

As part the annual celebrations, people continued ancient traditions of resolving to do good and be better individuals, but it wasn't until the end of the Great Depression in the early 1940s that New Year's resolutions began to become popular in the United States.

At the time, resolutions focused on good works, such as becoming less self-centered and more helpful; instead of the body image resolutions of today.

The shift from self-improvement to physical appearance resolutions occurred mainly in the 20th century.

By the 21st century, resolutions included losing weight, quitting smoking, improving self-images and more.

According to, popular resolutions for 2014 will include losing weight, volunteering, quitting smoking, getting a better education, getting a better job, saving money, getting fit, eating healthy, managing stress, managing debt, taking a trip, recycling more, and drinking less alcohol.

The problem is though that resolutions, no matter how easy they may be, are easier to break.

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