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Why is it a tradition to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve?



There’s always the promise of good things to come on New Year’s Eve—parties, Champagne, a fresh start. But whom are you going to kiss at midnight? It’s a tradition that makes kids squirm, induces stress in singletons, and is happily anticipated (one hopes!) for those who are romantically attached. This custom dates back to eighth century BC and has clearly stood the test of time.

Back in the day, Ancient Romans would throw a huge party called the Festival of Saturnalia, which involved lavish banquets, kissing, and lots of debauchery. Thanks to the English and the Germans, that festival evolved to something more restrained, and a tradition of celebrating the arrival of the New Year by kissing the first person one encountered was established.

Folklore suggests whomever you kissed at the stroke of midnight could bring you good or bad fortune during the coming the year (talk about pressure). The custom eventually evolved into kissing someone you knew (phew!) and who might influence your romantic prospects over the ensuing twelve months.

The midnight smooch tradition continues today but, alas, is now simply a tradition. 

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September 2018

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