9 Things You Didn't Know About New Year's Eve

From million-dollar champagne to worldwide pork consumption, there's a lot going on for December 31.
NYE drag queen

The year 2014 gave us lots to celebrate. The stock market rebounded, gas prices dropped, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and 6s, and the bargains kept on coming. Now with New Year's Eve fast upon us, you might well wonder, "What facts might elucidate our general understanding of this fine fete?" Well, that's what we wondered anyway.

So here we go. Strap on your cone-shaped hat with the pinchy rubber band, rattle that noisemaker, hoist that champagne glass, and kiss as many people as you can find in the general vicinity. The calendar will soon turn the page, so let's not waste another nanosecond.

The First Times Square Ball Drop Was in 1907

Three years previous, in 1904, The New York Times kicked off a fireworks display to celebrate their new headquarters in Times Square. The original ball, CNN says, weighed 700 pounds and measured 5 ft. in diameter. It was made of iron and wood and decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs. But good luck finding it today; it was once in fine shape until somebody dropped it. (Just kidding! It was actually replaced in 1955.)

Key West's NYE is More Exciting Than New York

Lowering a glittering sphere is one thing but in Key West, they drop a drag queen from a ruby slipper. Gary "Sushi" Marion kicks out the jams at the 801 Bourbon Bar. The event is hosted by Anderson Cooper on CNN every New Year's Eve, and will be followed on January 4 by "Drag Bingo," a Sunday tradition at the 801 for 27 years. By comparison, Times Square is downright boring.

London's Fireworks Are Getting Out of Control

London has a bang-up New Year's fireworks display, and when it launched in 2003, 100,000 people made the trip. But in 2013, 500,000 people came out, resulting in multiple headaches for countless bobbies. As a result, the once-free display will now cost £10 (about $16) with only 100,000 allowed in the viewing area. Tickets went on sale in mid-September, the BBC reports. The 2013 event put a huge strain on London's Underground system, which might result in the train's recorded voice announcing this year, "Mind the lack of gap."

There's Champagne That Costs $10,000 Per Sip

Let's assume that you want to plunk down so much for champagne, you're willing to mortgage your house — and your vacation home — to buy it. In that case, you'd be looking at a bottle of Goût de Diamants' Taste of Diamonds, according to The Drinks Business. At £1.2 million (or $1.9 million) a bottle, it's worth at least $10,000 a sip by our reckoning. If you want more bang for your megabuck, you could rent a tractor trailer and haul home 381,818 bottles of Andre California Brut at $4.95 a (cork) pop.

Pork is a NYE Tradition Around the World

To celebrate New Year's Eve like any number of diverse populations, go for the pork chops, ribs, bacon, or whatever your piggy preference. An infographic by The History Channel says that it's central to celebrations in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, and Portugal. Or is that Porkugal? Regardless, pork now averages roughly $4 a pound, meaning that 2,015 pounds will set you back $8,060 — still far cheaper than a Slurpee cup's worth of Taste of Diamonds.

Thank Caesar for a January New Year

The Romans used to celebrate the dawn of the new year on March 1, but Julius Caesar moved it up to January 1 in 46 A.D. Janus, of course, is the Roman god that looks forward and backward, so Caesar's move was seemingly appropriate. But England and the American colonies didn't follow suit until 1752, The History Channel recounts. What the English monarchy had against Janus remains a mystery, but even for a mythical deity, 17 centuries is a long time to wait for a thumbs up.

Vuvuzela Noisemakers Are Dangerously Loud

Soccer fans have heard way too much about the vuvuzela, which is better than hearing the thing live. Don't let its innocent appearance fool you: The South African horn is purported to be the world's loudest noisemaker. No New Year's Eve event would be complete without one, as in complete hearing loss. The CBC reports: "A recent Swiss study found it to be perhaps the loudest soccer noisemaker ever, at 127 decibels. That's louder than a chainsaw." So you might wanna skip the vuvuzela temptation and bring a Black & Decker noisemaker to that party instead.

Southerners Ring in New Year's With Black-Eyed Peas

Right now, you can snag black-eyed peas for less than $3 a bag. And now's the time to stock up, as they're considered a food of good fortune by Southerners. The website Snopes.com notes that "the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day [is believed to] attract both general good luck and financial good fortune... Some choose to add other Southern fare (such as ham hocks, collard greens, or cabbage) to this tradition, but the black-eyed peas are key." Listening to the Black Eyed Peas is entirely your call.

The First New Year's Was in the Spring

So how far back does this New Year's thing go? Further back than even your first ill-advised hangover. The Babylonians had a long festival some 4,000 years ago. It happened in the first eleven days of the month Nisan, "which meant that the festival coincided with the spring equinox." That's March 20 in 2015, so if you've got any bubbly or confetti left over, raise a glass to your ancient homies and do it all over again.

As you venture out this New Year's Eve, make your first resolution to stay safe and watch out for other motorists and party-goers. It's one you can keep through all of 2015, which is more than most of us can say about our best-laid plans to diet, exercise, and cut back on buying Nerf guns with our credit cards. It promises to be a great time if you can stay awake long enough to — zzzzzz.

DealNews Contributing Writer

Lou Carlozo is a DealNews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the Managing Editor of WalletPop.com, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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1 comment
Thanks for a fun read. I live 10 minutes from Manhattan, I make it a point to avoid NYC on NYE after 9 PM or so. We usually go for a nice dinner and then just head home to watch it on TV. It's a mess! Especially people who line up in Times Square. Even if you don't, good luck finding transportation back after midnight.