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The idea behind exchanging a kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve is rooted in a simple superstition: The way you ring in the new year will determine how the rest of your year will go.
For J.C. Carter, a single 24-year-old who lives in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, it’s something he had often seen growing up, watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV, but has never experienced for himself.
“It’s almost like a fantasy or a dream or something to strive for,” he said.
If you’re in a relationship or dating someone, it’s safe to assume you’ll have someone to trade kisses with at midnight. If you’re single, you might be hoping that you’ll meet the perfect stranger or have a date for the evening. You might even form a pact with a friend, à la “When Harry Met Sally.” But with shifts in dating culture and a continuing “tripledemic,” are today’s revelers still longing for that movie moment when the clock strikes 12?
To be clear, even in 2022, there are those who aren’t aware that it’s a tradition at all, including Rakiah Polk, 35, a hairstylist in Chicago. “If I am romantic with someone and it comes up, I would be interested in doing it, but it’s not something I’m trying to make happen,” she said.
Emily Maldonado, 28, a public relations specialist in Harlem, said she had never had a New Year’s kiss with someone who wasn’t already her partner. This year she is planning to have dinner with friends and then party at a club in Manhattan, she said. Although she’s single, she isn’t hoping for a kiss at midnight.
“Obviously Covid and everything plays a huge factor in our mentality these days but I truly don’t think I was ever of that mind-set,” Ms. Maldonado said. “Even previously, I was very much in my Scorpio tendencies — like, don’t get too close.”
Bradley Haworth, a barista in Los Angeles, takes the opposite view. He said that the tradition of a New Year’s kiss was something he had always participated in, even when it required pushing aside his Covid wariness these last two years.
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“It’s an age-old tradition, right?” Mr. Haworth, 29, said. “It’s like a thing where you’re sort of born knowing that that’s what you’re supposed to do when the clock strikes 12.”
But spontaneous kisses run the risk of sending mixed signals if feelings aren’t reciprocated. When he lived in Seattle a few years ago, Mr. Haworth and his friends threw a New Year’s Eve party at which he ended up kissing a man who had a crush on him. He said he didn’t feel the same way, which became “an issue” for the rest of the night.
According to Ron Turner, 38, who has worked as a D.J. in Los Angeles for about 15 years, the kiss at midnight is not especially popular with singles. One possible explanation: the lack of slow dancing and love songs played at clubs.
“It’s kind of like physical romance has declined as a whole when it comes to parties,” he said.
He also pointed to an increased awareness of sexual harassment and assault. “I think a lot of men do play it safer,” Mr. Turner said, adding that without explicit consent, many are “not even going to make an attempt.”
As for Mr. Carter, who hosts the street-interview web series “Hopeless Romantic Society,” in which he talks to pedestrians about their love lives, he believes social media makes it difficult to be spontaneous when there’s a chance you might be recorded. Dating-app culture has also stoked a sense of anxiety for many users about approaching a stranger in person, given how accustomed they’ve become to the idea of connecting with a potential partner without having to leave their home.
“So it can be a little bit harder to be present and in person and open yourself up to those kinds of opportunities,” Mr. Carter said.
A kiss at midnight, of course, is preferably an in-person activity. One early recorded reference to this tradition was in an 1863 article in The Times about New Year celebrations in the city, specifically among German immigrants, some of whom rushed “into each other’s arms” and exchanged “hearty kisses.”
By the mid-20th century, the tradition had fused itself into pop culture, becoming common in movies and TV shows. Despite its popularity, it wasn’t always embraced. In a 1970 essay in New York magazine, Jane O’Reilly comically recalled attending a party where she witnessed the end of “at least three marriages.”
“The sudden realization that they were supposed to kiss and wish a sincere Happy New Year to their loathsome mates was too much for people,” she wrote.
George Adjei-Piasare, 18, said he had his first New Year’s kiss at a party last year, something he had wanted to happen ever since he first learned about the tradition via the Disney Channel. He hopes it happens again this year.
“The whole night we were just chatting up and then New Year’s came,” he said. Because people were already paired up before midnight, “it just happened.”
Mr. Turner, the D.J., who is throwing his own party in Hollywood this year, says that he doesn’t really consider the New Year’s kiss tradition when creating a set list, but that he is planning to play a few slow jams during the last few minutes of the night to set the mood.
“I feel like because there’s so much alcohol involved and everybody just wants to start the year off right, I’ve seen some singles actually connect before the end of the night and then have kiss at that point,” he said. “But it doesn’t always happen, like, right at midnight.”
Mr. Haworth is also celebrating at a house party with his roommates in Los Angeles. He said he was expecting a lot of people to participate in the tradition to ensure a good year ahead.
“It’s like doing Christmas without presents,” he said. “I can’t imagine it being a new year without that baked into the tradition.”
Gina Cherelus is a reporter for The Times’s Styles desk who covers a range of topics including culture and trends. @jeanuh_
Could it really be New Year’s Eve without fireworks? Hardly! New York City has some pretty amazing fireworks displays every NYE, from the Ball Drop at Times Square to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. No matter where you are or what you’re doing on that beautiful night, you’re likely to see gorgeous, sparkling firecrackers explode in the sky.
Below are our favorite fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve in NYC.
The biggest gripe against New Year’s celebrations is that they’re crazy expensive. If you want to save on the cost but don’t mind a crowd, Santore’s World Famous fireworks display over Prospect Park’s Grand Army Plaza is a color-popping way to toast 2023. Besides, it doesn’t get any more New York than sharing a communal experience on the street, elbow to elbow with your fellow taxpayers. (And it sure as hell beats Times Square!) This is the first year it’s been back since the pandemic began, so expect your fellow New Yorkers to relish the event! Plus there will be live entertainment by Quintessential Playlist who will perform live music at 10pm before the fireworks begin.
New Year’s Eve in Times Square is the sparkling event of the season. The iconic party in the square celebrates big with live musical performances, the famous ball drop and, once the clock strikes midnight, a massive fireworks display. If you’re brave enough to put up with the crowds and the cold, this display is one you’ll want to see.
Run as if 2022 were chasing you (and truly, can you imagine a scarier horror concept?) at New York Road Runners’ annual four-mile Midnight Run, which provides credit to finishers toward the New York City Marathon. At midnight, start your trek with hundreds of other festive joggers at Central Park and take in the gorgeous fireworks display at the end. (Trust us: It’s a hell of a lot healthier than binge drinking and hooking up with a rando.) Be sure to register online before the big date.
AND… when that “MUSIC” is on, that which… I really like … THEN…all that I start to wish for… and if only “OUR” wishes could really happen …. just when you really want them too… because we would all be so happy… if that number one wish… that we all make … to be nice and young just as we were … when we were “Sweet Sixteen”… and now only you know… how long ago that was… but think how “HAPPY” we all could be… to be able to “DANCE” like we did … way back then!
My second choice … If only I was “18”… again… and the music was turned on for all of us “youngsters”… that are given that wonderful chance in LIFE… to be able to do all of that… which we could way back and when!
If you are going to DANCE…this is how you do it…
As I remember… when I was DANCING… those extra pounds… that so many of us… do take the time to collect…sitting in front of that “BOOB BOX” – – I do have to thank the Almighty…that we did not have …that new invention… back then… that makes you waste so much of your good time… just doing nothing!
If you are in the MOOD… to have FUN…tonight… on “New Years’ EVE” … grab for yourself… only the very best “Partner” you can find… then click the LINK… below …watch… how fast you start to enjoy … how your body moves…and you now feel like a MILLION!
There is nothing better… than this music and dancing… as it is the very best of medicine… to cure everything and anything!
While – remembering about my childhood in the early 1940’s and during those WWII years… I do have an old photo that was taken of me and my Father sitting by the lamp in the living room.
We are looking at this one very large size “Hail Stones” in a large bowl… that my Dad had just collected from in the front of our house.
And this was during a very bad storm!
In all of my years… those “HAIL STONES” … were the largest that I have ever seen.
Why such a large size – no idea – but since then the average size, that I have seen… were about the size of small beans.
This memory is only remembered… because I’ve seen that old photo, several times and there must have been a special reason for collecting “HAIL STONES” and taking a picture.
No body was taking a whole lot of pictures in those days – since there was a WAR going on… you almost always had to have a “Ration Coupon” to buy so many necessary things, because… most of the material and general supplies the people used… did have to first go… toward the WAR effort – we did want to win the WAR – and all of us in AMERICA… did learn very early to do without, so that America would be victorious in the putting an end… to all Wars!
When we lived in the North Saint Louis area… it seems to me, that we had lots of ice and snow. At least much more than we have today, and there were no organized street cleaners… since I remember my DAD having to puts chains on the car, if we were to have to go somewhere.
So, in one of those early years… I must have ask for “ice skates” … having no idea… what “ice skates” even looked like and or if I would even be able to skate… even if … I did receive them?
Well, I received “ice skates” and there must have been plenty of ice out side on the side-walks… those “ice-skates” that I received were the kind that you attach to the shoes that you have on, and you should have a good strong and firm shoe on your foot… so that the skates can be attached properly!
My Father put the skates on me in the house and then carried me out side.
These “ice skates” had double blades, on each skate… so at-least I could stand without falling.
So my DAD took my hands and just pulled me, for a while – and then had me move one foot ahead of the other and pulling me slower to see if I could do the leg work of skating.
All the time I felt real secure… just holding on to him. We only went around our block and for a very long time. I was dressed so warm, in those days little girls worn “Leg-gens” – which were made to match your coat… plus the knitted hat and scarf around the neck… and also I had one of those “HAND-MUFFS” … it had a long attached ribbon that went around to the back of the neck… so that when you took your hands out, from each side, it was still hanging on to you and it did not get lose as it was always ready for you to put your hands in… and or… some of your stuff or even your gloves that is… if you did not need them.
Also… it had a pocket that zipped shut for some money… it was the best for keeping the hands – warm! The warmest.
It was so amazing, that my DAD would take the time to hold me and run along side of me… as I was learning to skate… as I did learn how to skate, and whenever if was okay with my parents… and the weather was just right… I was outside skating … and all around the block!
Back then, when we (kids) were little and in the 1940s – my Dad had to go to California to do “welding work” on the ships… and we, that is my Mother and I …would write letters.
My Mother would type her letters most of the time … and then… she would also enclose my “chicken-scratch” letters to my DADDY.
BUT… what made this letter writing fun for me… and also one of the most important parts of the day, was that waiting for our “MAIL-MAN” to bring to us…something in the mailbox from my DADDY!
Maybe there were fewer people living in the greater Saint Louis area back then, and of course… maybe letter-writing was a very important thing to do… as there was no TV.
Way back then, we only had the radio and usually if a couple of the families… living in the same close together area, had the same radio station turned on at the same time… you could be out-side and hear that program all the while that you are doing something different, but only listening in!
Back then the RADIO was important to have.
As I am now thinking about listening to the radio back then, you could mentally see and understand all that was going on… and still continue to be able… to do whatever you also… just have to do… till done!
But today, with that TV … you have to get yourself right in front of that TV… just so that, you will “know” what exactly is going on.
You just have to see “IT” … watching every little thing going on… because, just listening to a program…you miss out!
In today’ world you are – trapped – in front of the TV.
Yesterday… it was fun for us… back in those days …when you only had the radio… YOU were as free s a “BIRD” … since, you were free to do so many other things… and never ever missed out on anything important in the story or program… something that I feel… that so many people living now… today… are locking their selves into another world???
I remember having so much fun… just watching for that “Mail-Man” – when I was a little girl – – because the “Mail-Man” also came two (2) times a day!
Something that we do not have today, and if you were to get your letter in that “MAIL BOX” by nine (9:00 p.m.) in the evening… that piece of mail was delivered the very next day!
Maybe because of the “TIMES” as America was in that “WAR”… that was going on, and the mail had to be moving – so that everybody would know as soon as possible – what was happening in the world !
Even as fast as the mail was received… there were a good many times that my DADDY, would send a “Telegram” to us.
My Daddy was always sending some little special things – just for me – and that is how I remember him – sending some of his-self … “sending little bits of LOVE … just to little ole me… in the mail!”
During those WWII years – those young boys riding on the bicycles – delivering telegrams – usually were bringing “BAD NEWS”.
I also know, that when that young man would be ringing your door-bell… your heart would just sink… especially if you had a family member enlisted in one of the different branches of service!
My DADDY would also use those “Telegram Services” because, being in California… a letter would take a couple of days, but and if … you paid a few pennies more you could send your letter “AIR-Mail” and then … for just a few more pennies… you could have that letter deliver with “Special Delivery” –
So then… you were then able… to be in touch for just a few pennies back then, and always… just so fast was this service!
Remember … NOW…that was yesterday…
Today it is a different story … and, I am not just a little girl anymore – waiting to hear from my Daddy!!!
Some of the things that we, “ORPHANS” did… not that everyone is an Orphan, but when you are not at home with your very own parents… I guess you are an “orphan”… at least… I was an orphan for a few years…
So… what I did – I would just stick into my “MEMORY” cube – You know that brain, we all have one… good old memories … as if they just happened, yesterday?
Only one of the Christmas gifts – that I had received from the “Famous Barr Store” – all though… I did receive seven Christmas wrapped gifts… but this one and only gift – the very same one… that so many of us little girls received – was a “DOLL Clothes Washing Machine!”
Why would I remember that?
Well, several of us little girls did have dolls… and the “DOLLS” each one had a few clothes.
I cannot believe that “DOLLS” get their clothes dirty, but now… those of us having a brand new “WASHING Machines” …. just had to see how our “Washing Machines” would work?
There were several of us, girls trying to figure out all of this with those very simple directions… but for some reason or the other … the little “WASHING MACHINE” did not work.
As an “ORPHAN” … there were long hours for us in the “PLAYROOM” and with nothing better to do, but try to figure out, how does this little machine wash the clothes?
Now that I stop to think about it… those machines were not made to really work, but as a little girl… I’m guessing that with a lot of “DOLL” playing… you need to work the brain in such a way… by asking yourself questions as if to learn … by getting some answers using your “wildest of wild” imaginations… with as much “make-believe” that you can possibly dream up…
“Make-believe” all of your “DOLLS” and activities really take place in a world… so far removed from that “ADULT” world… so that if we had a “DOLL Clothes Washing Machine” to wash our Doll’s clothes, then…
Let us… pretend that we now are way back in the 1940’s… and now, I am thinking that some of us have Dolls… that would have an accident… like falling into a heavy rain storm filled mess, and everything… that our Dolls were wearing needed to be wash and dried and iron and even some of the Doll’s clothes would then … have to be hung on a clothes-line, in the nice “Sunshine”.
Continuing on… while all of this is going on… we will take our good Dolls for a buggy ride.
Later the Dolls will be home for their meals and even later on… we will be putting the Dolls to bed, for some rest… to end… this day!
Well, this wonderful day must come to end.
All gifts to children are really items to let the eyes… see and the hands… feel and with your friends, use your mouth to speak some sweet things to your “DOLLS”.
And always use those ears to listen, for good sweet words… so that you and with the help of your “DOLLS” … you are using those five (5) senses, that you received as your first gifts from the Almighty… and now you are putting all of your good gifts to the best of all uses … and by using all of your gifts… for a positive good …to all!