National Observance: Ring in the New Year! in public domainSATURDAY and SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31 and JANUARY 1: Whatever happened in 2011—and for millions there are somber memories—family and friends love to celebrate the New Year in style!
Whether you’ll be ringing in 2012 at home, with friends, with fellow church members or in New York City, one thing is certain: You won’t be alone in reviewing the past year and making goals for 2012. But before you get your noisemaker ready, take a few minutes to learn the history of New Year’s—including America’s own 40th anniversary, this year, of Dick Clark’s annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show. (Get the scoop from the Washington Post.)

DROPPING BIG THINGS! FROM NEW YORK TO DETROIT’S NEW “D”’s how Times Square looked 365 days ago!The tradition of dropping something over the heads of revelers goes back many centuries—but the famous Times Square Ball in New York City first dropped in 1907! Now, many cities across the United States drop something, ranging from balloons in thousands of clubs and ballrooms to huge shining logos over American cities. Despite the dire financial crisis in the Motor City, a group of longtime Detroit supporters, including the Detroit Free Press, will drop a first-ever, brightly lit “Big D” in downtown Detroit. That gigantic D is 7.5 feet tall and blazes with LED lighting.

In New York City’s Times Square, the 12-foot, 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball has become an annual tradition for millions of TV viewers around the world during the final moments of each calendar year.


Since 1972, Dick Clark has hosted “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” and this year—in light of the show’s significant anniversary—a 6-hour special will run through fashion, fads and music of the past four decades, feature 29 live musical performances and be co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest. (Get all the info from Times Square Alliance.) Don’t think this show has lost its appeal in the last 40 years, either—ratings show that, last year, it had more viewers than it had in the past five.


A more reflective, religious New Year’s Eve tradition can be found in many churches across the country: Watchnight services begin late on New Year’s Eve and often include confession. African-American communities also remember New Year’s Eve of 1862, when many slaves gathered in churches to await confirmation of the Emancipation Proclamation—coincidentally, this event was also called “Watch Night.” On a family level, a growing number of cities nationwide are hosting an event known as First Night for all ages and races: This non-alcoholic celebration typically consists of parades, fireworks, performances and more. (Families celebrating at home can get craft ideas, recipes and more from FamilyFun.)


Apps are emerging that creators hope will assist in keeping New Year’s resolutions. Keeping resolutions is a noble—if largely futile—goal for millions. Research shows that New Year’s resolutions have an 80 percent failure rate. According to the Boston Globe, tailor-made schedules that allow users to tackle goals with baby steps might be the key to healthier, more successful end results. So, in 2012, an App could help.

NASA has also announced the arrival of twin spacecraft on the moon, scheduled for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, where the probes will study an uneven lunar gravity field. (Read an article in the Washington Post.) The mission, which checked in at almost $500 million, is expected to give scientists more information about the history of the mysterious rock we call the moon.

Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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