New Year, old traditions

Looking at different cultures and past civilizations, and how they bring in the new year


Feliz Año Neuvo, Bonne Annee, Prosit Neujahr.

In English, it's New Year.

And in America, it's all Champaign glasses, confetti and watching that big ball drop from Time Square.

As thousands kiss across the country at midnight Jan. 1, 2007, most of Western society is celebrating the birth of a new calendar year, 365 fresh days to gauge the seasons.

To a person, the New Year may mean a chance to start over, a chance to right past wrongs. It may mean spending more time with family, quitting smoking or trying to shed those extra pounds.

The tradition of making a New Year's resolution goes back approximately 4,000 years to the Babylonians.

The ancient civilization celebrated the new year on what would be March 23, signifying the beginning of spring. According to the Kansas City Public Library Web site,, a common New Year's resolution for the Babylonians was to return something borrowed from a friend from the previous year.

For the sword and sandal brandishing Romans, a common New Year's resolution was to seek forgiveness of enemies from previous years.

For Ryan Bailey, it means hanging out with his family and watching the tube as the ball drops in New York City.

"And do all those New Year's resolutions that never work out," he said.

Bailey plans to ring in the new year from the comfort of his home. But for those looking to get out of the house Sunday evening, local business owner Sidney Brasfield has one hope.

"I hope to see no vehicles except two cabs on New Year's," said Brasfield, the owner of All Around Taxi.

She said implored those who plan to drink on New Year's Ever to find a designated driver or call a taxi to get them home safely.

"It's very important and we're going to be running two cabs for that very reason," Brasfield said. "We'll keep running until the phones quit ringing. We'd rather stay open than anyone consider driving."

John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or

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