FUN Facts: New Year’s Traditions, Celebrations, and More

| January 1, 2019

FUN Facts, brought to you by First United National Bank, is an occasional feature on and that will list facts about the area and other relevant topics.

The First New Year’s Festivities Were Held in March


Did you know that the earliest New Year festivities were celebrated in what we now call March? New Year festivities date back approximately 4,000 years when the people of ancient Babylon began their new year with an 11-day festival to “celebrate the beginning of spring and the fact that crops were being planted for the coming year.”

You Could Buy a New Car for $300 on January 1, 1919


U.S. motorists who plan to ring in the new year by purchasing a new car will spend an average of around $35,000.

One hundred years ago, on January 1, 1919, a new Ford Model T could be purchased for around $300. With inflation, that amount today equals around $4,370.60.

While new car prices have increased dramatically, the relative price of gasoline has held steady. The national average price of gasoline in 1919 was 25 cents per gallon or $3.64 in today’s terms.

The Origins of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration

Everyone knows about the annual tradition of gathering in Times Square for New Year’s Eve, but not many know its origin.

The tradition started in 1904 as a party to celebrate the opening of the New York Times building. Over 200,000 people attended that year and the rest is history.

“What’s That Song They Play on New Year’s Eve?”

“Auld Lang Syne,” traditionally sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve, was written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. It is set to the tone of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). The words auld lang syne mean “times gone by.”

Pitt Won Their 9th Championship on January 1, 1977

Led by Heisman winner Tony Dorsett, the Pittsburgh Panthers (#1) clinched their ninth and most recent national championship with a dominating 27-3 win over the Georgia Bulldogs (#4) in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1977.

Six years later, on January 1, 1983, Joe Paterno’s Penn State Nittany Lions (#2) finished atop the polls by beating Vince Dooley’s Bulldogs (#1) by a margin of 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl.

The Ball Drop

The New Year’s Eve Ball dropped in Times Square is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds. It is covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size. The triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules which are attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball. The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs. Each LED module contains 48 LEDs — 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.

Good Luck, Bad Luck


Sauerkraut and pork are considered staples for those seeking good luck in the new year because “when a pig roots for food, it roots forward.”

Lobster and chicken are considered bad luck because lobsters “can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.”

Black-eyed peas, ham, and cabbage are also considered good luck if you eat them on New Year’s Eve or Day because it is believed they will bring you money.

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