December 31st is New Year's Eve, so we're inviting you to see how much you know about New Year's traditions with some trivia questions. They start in 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ...
Why Do We Even Drop a Ball? Over 1 million people are expected to pack into New York's Times Square to ring in 2018 by watching the ball drop, and millions more will watch on television. The concept of dropping a ball to mark time dates back to the mid-1800s in England. One of the earliest time-balls was the one atop the Flamsteed House of the Greenwich Observatory along the River Thames. Starting in 1833, it was lowered every day at exactly 1 p.m. to signal the time to sailors and Londoners who could not afford clocks and watches.
The First New Year's Eve in Times Square Was Meant to Celebrate What Business' Arrival There? In 1904, Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, was looking for a way to celebrate the newspaper's new building in Times Square. So he decided to throw a party. That party saw 200,000 people turn out for the all-day celebration which was finished off with a round of fireworks. Three years later, they decided to drop a 700-pound ball made of iron and wood, and covered in light bulbs, as part of the celebration. Today, there's over one million people coming out to Times Square on New Year's Eve, and that ball is just shy of 12,000 pounds, with somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion viewers tuning in to watch it all happen on their TVs. In other words, it seems the tradition has taken off.
In 2011, Who Was Inside the Ball That Dropped in Seaside Heights, New Jersey? "You know the New Year's Eve ball drop? Wouldn't it be awesome if we put a reality TV star INSIDE the ball?" is a thought that apparently at least one person has had. In 2010, the folks at MTV thought it would be fun to put Snooki inside a ball being dropped on New Year's Eve in Times Square. Not, THE BALL, mind you, because that would apparently be too much. But maybe a nearby one. In a statement released beforehand, producers of Times Square New Year's Eve announced that, "The request to have her in a separate ball on a set-back roof came too late and was too impractical to fit into our outdoor events." Which is ridiculous, because we don't see how that could be at all impractical. Snooki went ahead with the drop anyway, but she did it in the place that made the most sense: Jersey Shore.
In Spain, It Is Customary to Try to Fit How Many Grapes in Your Mouth When the Clock Strikes Twelve? On New Year's Eve, Spaniards traditionally eat 12 grapes at midnight; one grape for each stroke of the clock to represent the 12 months of the New Year. Eating 12 grapes on New Year's Eve is a Spanish tradition and superstition to bring good fortune in the coming year. The goal for each person participating in the New Year's Eve tradition is to swallow all 12 grapes before the last stroke of midnight. The tradition began in 1909 as a way to consume the grape surplus in the Alicante region. Of course, that's not the only country who does it differently. In Stonehaven, Scotland, revelers swing around a blazing ball of fire in the streets, and in Romania, people dress up like bears to try to scare evil away.