New Year will be greeted with many traditions

Dec. 28, 2012 @ 04:57 PM

As New Year's Eve and New Year's Day approach, people throughout the world are working to plan their celebrations.

Along with these celebrations come many well known and some lesser known traditions.

Some popular ones are watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square, the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" as the New Year rolls in and eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day.

"It's always good eating," Mayor Bobby Kilgore of Monroe said in reference to having black-eyed peas and collard greens as part of a New Year's Day meal.

He along with many others in Union County mentioned having black-eyed peas and collard greens as one of their usual New Year's Day traditions.

According to Southern Living.com, the eating of greens and black-eyed peas dates back to the Civil War when Union troops pillaged the land, leaving behind only black-eyed peas and greens as animal fodder. Both foods are rich in nutrients and helped Southerners survive. Some people say that the greens represent dollar bills and the peas represent coins and that eating them will ensure wealth and luck.

Reid Helms, president of Union County Crime Stoppers, as well as Mayor Lynda Paxton of Stallings and Deputy Fire Marshal Jon Williams, also mentioned eating black-eyed peas and collard greens as one of their New Year's traditions.

Other traditions they mentioned included spending time with friends and family on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and others.

"We seemed to have mellowed out over the years," Helms said.

In the past, he often attended New Year's Eve parties but in recent years has chosen to spend time with friends and family as he welcomes in the New Year, he said.

Unlike many who work to make New Year's resolutions each year, Paxton said she works to set goals for different aspects of her life in the new year and to determine what actions to take to achieve them.

She also works to maintain balance in all areas of her life, she said.

For Chief Debra Duncan of the Monroe Police Department, she has enjoyed spending New Year's Eve at home in recent years unless needed to come in for work. 

"Usually I'll stay at home hoping everything goes OK in the city," Duncan said.

In the past, she has had to work on New Year's Eve.  On New Year's Day, she usually cooks dinner for her family, she said.

Though people bring in the New Year in different ways, some traditions date back many years and have a long history.

For instance, according to History.com, "Auld Lang Syne" is the title of a Scottish folk song many English speakers sing at midnight on New Year's Eve.  The title of the song translates to "Days Gone By" and the poet Robert Burns is credited with transcribing, adapting and partially rewriting the song in the late 18th century. The song has been sung on New Year's Eve since the mid-19th century and became cemented as a holiday standard when Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians played it during a radio broadcast from New York's Roosevelt Hotel at midnight on Dec. 31, 1929.  The band went on to perform the song every year until 1976 and today loudspeakers in Times Square play the band's rendition of the song during the annual New Year's Eve ball drop.

It is estimated that one billion people around the world watch the ball drop in Times Square every year. The annual event dates back to 1904 when the New York Times newspaper relocated to what was then known as Longacre Square, which was later renamed in the paper's honor. At the end of the year, the publication's owner would throw a party with an elaborate fireworks display. When the city banned fireworks in 1907, an electrician created a wood-and-iron ball that weighed 700 pounds and was illuminated by 100 light bulbs and was dropped from a flagpole at midnight on New Year's Eve. The ball has been lowered almost every year since then and has gone through many upgrades. Today the ball weighs about 12,000 pounds, according to History.com.