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What Started the New Year’s Kiss?

Confetti, glitter, horns, and countdowns are all standard customs and props that help us to usher in the New Year with great energetic spirit.  But where did the tradition of the midnight kiss begin?  Sure it’s romantic – but not always - often friends and family give each other an affectionate peck on the cheek without much thought.

According to Wikipedia, historians believe that the tradition of the New Year’s kiss started with the Ancient Romans. To commemorate the festival of Saturnalia and Winter Solstice (both celebrated at the end of December) Romans exchanged kisses. According to English and German folklore, the first person you pucker up to in a new year -and the nature of this encounter- sets the tone for your happiness in year ahead.

Europeans have also traditionally held masked balls on New Year’s Eve for hundreds of years. In these traditions, the mask symbolizes evil spirits from the old year and the kiss (after removing the mask) is an act of purification.  And if you find yourself in Scotland for New Years, come prepared to smootch everyone. When celebrating at a Scottish Hogmanay party, it is custom to try to give a kiss to everyone in the room after the stroke of midnight or after “the bells”.  Better pack the breath mints!

There is also a superstitious element to to the kiss — supposedly kissing those closest to you at the stroke of midnight will strengthen the bonds of your relationship in the year to come.

These days, the kiss seems to have less to do with superstition than it does general merriment. We’re happy and excited about the New Year so we celebrate by giving someone we’re close with (or a stranger) a smooch. Still, some believe that a midnight kiss could guarantee you good luck in all things love for the year to come.

Tradition and superstition aside, utilize your New Year’s kiss. It is one of our most life-affirming pleasures and only comes around so many times. Use it as an excuse to grab hold of someone you love, or someone you’d like to love and establish this year will be one full of love, risks worth taking, and much to celebrate.

Some say that holding a kiss from 11:59 until 12:01 with a very special someone symbolizes the perfect ending to one year, and a perfect start to another.

Is the New Year’s kiss over-rated or a fun spirited tradition? Any funny New Year’s kiss stories?  Do share!