I’ve never fully understood the fascination with watching the ball drop in New York on New Year’s Eve. It’s a ball. It drops. People count. The night is over. And who actually enjoys singing Auld Lang Syne, anyway?
The Washington Post shares my sentiments, and wrote up a great article today about alternative New Year’s trends. They note the U.S. towns that have taken New Year’s Eve into their own hands. In historic harbor town Annapolis, Maryland, folks will drop a sailboat–yes, a sailboat–decked out with lights. Georgians are dropping peaches and chicken nuggets (we get the peach thing, but nuggets? Really?). Floridians get even more into it, and will lower (not drop) Sushi–a local drag queen–from a balcony in Key West.
And why do we have a need drop things on New Year’s Eve? The Post explains:
Douglas Raybeck, an anthropology professor at Hamilton College, has studied exotic rituals in dozens of countries, but none have taken to dropping things with such zeal.
It all comes down to a human need to mark moments of change, he believes, and the dropping of balls, sausages and other preferred objects constitutes the perfect symbol. “It’s a shared experience.
Everyone can see the inception and the terminus of the ball drop,” he said.
It wouldn’t work as well to launch an object, he theorizes, because it continues into the air for unknown periods of time. Dropping is linear and has a definite end. It quantifies visually the exact moment we enter another year, with all its promises of possibilities and new hope.
“We call it a liminal period, a threshold and point of transition,” he said.
And what do all those towns with all those giant pickles and 70-pound tangerines have to say about that?
“Honestly, we just started it because we were tired of watching New York’s ball drop every year,” said Marie U’Ren, 68, as she prepared Easton’s huge crab for its annual plummet. For years, parties in Easton had ended with everyone gathering somewhat anticlimactically around a TV screen in the town’s main arts hall. “This year, I mean, it’s a big, huge crab on a hydraulic lift. No one’s going to want to miss something like that.”
Copenhagen, New Orleans, Sydney, and other cities around the world also boast elaborate fireworks displays, and while Sydney may be the first large city to set off a major display, the small island of Kiritimati (or, Christmas Island) is actually the first to ring in the New Year.
So, no matter what you’re dropping tonight, Happy New Year! From all of your friends at Intelligent Travel.
Photo: Tom Bennett, via the Intelligent Travel Flickr pool
- Nat Geo Expeditions