New Year’s Kiss: The Story Behind This Tradition

What’s the story behind the New Year’s Eve Kiss?

New Year’s Kiss – Many people believe that kissing someone on New Year’s Eve has a significant meaning.

All over the world, people observe different traditions during the holiday season until the new year comes. One of the traditions that many people do is kissing when the clock strikes midnight as the new year commences.

Based on the article in Reader’s Digest, there is no exact record pointing to the origin of this tradition. but it is often traced back to two winter festivals.

new year's kiss
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These two festivals are Saturnalia in ancient Rome and Hogmanay, a Viking tradition still celebrated on New Year’s in Scotland.

The Saturnalia was held every year during the winter solstice. This event involved the biggest party of the year. With this, it was naturally implied that there was public drunkenness which also created the assumption that kissing was involved. Often, this event was held between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23 and experts believe that was where how the New Year’s kiss started.

For the Homaganay traditions, kisses were given to strangers and friends along with wishes of a “Guid New Year.”

Christina Fitzgerald, PhD, a professor of English literature at the University of Toledo said that one of the earliest literary mentions of this tradition of kissing during New Year’s Eve goes back to the Middle Ages: specifically, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

A passage in the literary work cited that an event happened on New Year’s Day and refers to a holiday game in which the ladies who lose must give something to the men. “Every glossed edition and commentary I’ve seen on this assumes the ‘something’ is a kiss,” Fitzgerald said.

Many people still believe and do this tradition during New Year’s Eve with the thinking that “whoever a person is with at midnight portends what type of luck they will have for the rest of the year,” Daniel Compora, PhD, an associate professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Toledo said. This was part of English and German folklore. Compora said that most probably, it was the Germans who brought this tradition to America.

Aside from this tradition during New Year, the story behind the celebration of Thanksgiving is also worth reading.

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