A History of New Years Celebrations, Fashions, Jewelry, & Traditions

New Years Celebrations

As the year comes to an end some of our thoughts might be turning to the New Years Celebrations we might attend. A Jubilee which has been celebrated since 2000 BC. Although the early revelry didn’t occur on January the 1st. Instead, ancient Mesopotamians threw an 11-day festival around the Spring Equinox. As they followed the lunar calendar beginning in March. With parties which would put the New York Ball Drop to shame.

For almost 2000 years these celebrations continued until Julius Ceaser adopted the Julian Calendar in 45 BC. With the month of January added to honor the Roman God Janus. A two-headed God which looked both forward and backward.

Today New Years is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide. Yet unlike Christmas, Valentine, or even Halloween novelty New Year’s Eve costume jewelry designs never really took off. Perhaps this is because New Year’s Eve is the one night Partygoers generally dress impeccably before painting the town. A custom along with many others we observe today which have been practiced back through history to the beginnings of the holiday itself.

Our Custom of Dressing Up for New Years Celebrations

Eisenberg New Years CelebrationsFrom stories of ancient Scots donning the hides of cattle and lighting bonfires around their village to the sparkling jewelry and sequins of the modern era. People have been wearing something new or unusual on this holiday throughout time.

During the Roman celebration of Janus, the upper classes dressed formal Togas. While women often wore amulets around their necks symbolizing various gods. Meant to ward off evil during the transition from old to new.

New Years Celebrations clutchSeen as a struggle between chaos and order many cultures have dressed in costume and mask as the year’s end counts down. Only to reveal themselves at the stroke of midnight when the order is restored at the dawn of the new year. Known as the Masquerade Ball these celebrations first became popular to the upper classes of Italy. Eventually, gaining prominence across Europe in the late medieval courts.

Earrings New Years CelebrationsEven the colors worn for the festivities have held meaning down through the ages. From the purity of white, the passion of red or optimism of green to the color of yellow to attract financial gains.

Where some rituals believe choosing the right color of underwear can affect luck in the coming year. With superstitions that for a year filled with love and passion red undies are a must. While blue will bring peace, fidelity, and good health.

The reality that so many of the age-old traditions are still being practiced today is truly amazing. Even though fashion trends have changed through the millennia. We continue to usher in each New Year dressed for the occasion.

So as you are laying out that red carpet gown or fitting for your New Year’s Tux. Remember your ancestors were probably picking out just the right outfit to celebrate the season just like you many years ago.

The Drinking and Feasting at New Years Celebrations

Martini Glass New Years CelebrationsFeasting and drinking on New Year’s Eve are other traditions handed down from ancient times. From the Roman celebration of Janus to the Nordic Tribes who celebrated the rebirth of “Sól“, their Sun Goddess.

As the winter months shortened the Scandinavian days. New Years signaled the coming of spring and the gradual lengthening of days. As a celebration, the Norsemen set barrels a fire to be rolled through the villages. While eating and drinking to excess.

Huge banquets and drunken revelry has been a part of New Years since the beginning, across time and cultures. Ancient Egyptians celebrating the flooding of the Nile which ensures fertility to the river valley.

Wine Brooch New Years CelebrationsWhile Medieval France celebrated New Years Day with “Feast of Fools”. An annual event where roles were reversed and the lower classes dressed in fancy outfits to act rich for a day. With plenty of cross-dressing, gambling, drinking, and risqué behavior.

Over time certain foods became popular for these feasts, taking on a tradition of bringing good luck. With superstitions revolving around the animals or vegetables served. Beliefs such as chicken should not be served because a chicken scratches backward as it hunts for food. But fish is acceptable since a fish always swims forward.

One of the most popular dishes being pork. Where again a pig always ruts forward. While in Spain the custom of eating twelve grapes, one with each stroke of midnight. Meant to symbolize the upcoming months of the new year. Yet some say this tradition sprang from a French custom of having grapes and champaign to celebrate the new year.

The Noises of New Years Celebrations


Ball Earrings New Years Celebrations
Just as we celebrate with Champaign, which has its ties to the Catholic Eucharist in France. We also blow our horns, shoot off fireworks, and ring bells to welcome the new year with as much noise as we can make. Similar to our ancestors who beat drums and banged on pots to scare away the evil spirits on New Year’s Eve.

While these traditions aren’t carried on for the same reasons today they are still a huge part of the festivities. At any New Year’s Eve party, you attend there will be an array of noisemakers on each table.

Starburst New Years Celebrationsons

Most often along with novelty hats and tiaras. While you will expect a glass of champaign to raise at the stroke of midnight.

Yet the loudest noise on New Year’s Eve is by far the sparkling New Year’s fireworks. Exploding high in the sky then showering down in a rainbow of color. A tradition which has grown to be the finale of First Night parties around the globe. With some of the best displays being in New York, London, Paris, Edinburgh, and Sydney. Still, no matter where you find yourself on the First chances are you will be in earshot of a local show, or maybe a neighbor shooting off a gun.

Wishing You a Happy New Year

With all of the different traditions and superstitions surrounding the New Year, customs tend to be particular to each region. So I wish each of you a Happy New Year with a little view of some of the sparkling vintage jewelry that may have been used to welcome in a New Year once before.

A History of New Years Celebrations, Fashions, Jewelry, & Traditions - Vintage Jewelry Team : As the year closes and our thoughts turn to New Years Celebrations. Let's take a moment to explore some of our most treasured traditions.
Bruce Barnwell
Owner of Estates in Time on Etsy

6 thoughts on “A History of New Years Celebrations, Fashions, Jewelry, & Traditions

  1. Margie Homan says:

    LOL! Bruce, this was an enjoyable read. I am always interested what people eat for good luck on New Years Day. Around here, because of the German influences, we have pork and sauerkraut on top of mashed potatoes. What do others eat for New Years Day?

    • Bruce Barnwell says:

      Here in the south, it’s Blackeyed peas for luck which supposedly dates back to the Civil War, Collard greens for money in the New Year, Pork for a prosperous year, and cornbread with kernels fo hard corn mixed into it to symbolize gold nuggets. 🙂

    • Darlene says:

      It has been a tradition in my family to take the bone from the Christmas ham and make bean soup & have cornbread with it (no hard corn mixed in for gold nuggets tho, lol). I never thought as to why we did that for New Years day, just always have.
      thanks Bruce, interesting! article.

  2. Marirose Ziemba says:

    Super interesting article Bruce. I had to laugh at the food traditions. We’ve always had fillet mignon, lobster, and king crab legs on New Years Eve. No reason except it’s our favorite! Happy New Year To All!

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