New Year’s Eve is the last hurrah of the holidays and a way to send the old year out with a bang, and welcome in a new. With the promise of another great year ahead, one filled with love, money and passion, we glitz ourselves up, and hit the town to celebrate. Then at the stroke of midnight, we have what starts off every year – the first kiss of the year.
Regardless of how you ring in the new year – whether watching the ball drop in Times Square in person or on television or even if you are dancing the night away in an upscale club, tradition states you spend the night with the people you enjoy. According to English and German folklore, the first person you encounter in a new year—and the nature of this encounter—sets the tone for the rest of the year. A kiss is about strengthening ties you wish to maintain in the future. If a couple celebrating together doesn’t take the time to lock lips, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship.
So what happens if you happen to be single on New Year’s Eve? There’s a superstition that not kissing anyone will portend a year of loneliness. But if you do believe not kissing anyone at midnight will foreshadow your entire year, is grabbing some random person at the party and locking lips better than kissing no one at all?
Why is the Kiss at Midnight So Important?
Passionate New Year’s Eve kisses have featured prominently in popular culture. In Bridget Jones’s Diary, a New Year’s Eve kiss at midnight brings Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy back together. The Godfather: Part II also features an emotional New Year’s Eve kiss, but this one’s not about sexual tension. Instead, Michael Corleone gives his brother Fredo a furious kiss of death after being betrayed.
The New Year’s Eve kiss at the end of When Harry Met Sally is the beginning of happily-ever-after for the two estranged friends, and it’s just as memorable as the fake orgasm scene at the deli. Harry finally admits he’s in love with Sally.
“It’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” he says. Sally’s shocked response: “That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you.”
As with the rest of the holidays, there can be inherited pressures put on you with the yearly traditions. Nevermore so than those who find themselves without plus-ones as we look to avoid the awkwardness of midnight and no one to kiss.
Last year, Mary, 40, of Brooklyn, NY, ditched New Year’s plans she’d made with friends because she didn’t want to be the one single person in the group. Mary stayed at home—where a New Year’s kiss wasn’t a possibility or a threat—and she ended up regretting the decision.
Jason, 34, of New York, NY, keeps the revelling low-key when he finds himself single come December. “I’m not going to go out stag with some vague hope of meeting someone to end the night with a kiss or more,” he says. “It never happens. It just leads to drunken disappointment and a hangover, which is a terrible way to start a new year.”
But even having a significant other doesn’t guarantee a romantic smooch at midnight—though many couples aren’t even bothered by it. Take Jennifer, 44, of Oklahoma City, Okla. She and her husband have replaced a romantic night out on the town with a family-friendly community event with their three children.
“Who has time for New Year’s Eve kisses or money for a babysitter?” she says. “My husband says the New Year’s Eve kiss is passé because we’re too tired to stay up that late.” Jennifer intends to share a New Year’s kiss at midnight with all four loves of her life, even if it doesn’t happen when the clock strikes twelve.
This relaxed, flexible approach seems to be the key to enjoying New Year’s Eve, whatever your relationship status. Celebrate with loved ones in an environment that makes you feel safe and comfortable. The kiss at midnight isn’t so different from a New Year’s resolution—despite your best intentions, you probably won’t pull it off perfectly, if at all.
Christine Clifford, President and CEO of Divorcing Divas, a Minneapolis-based organization dedicated to supporting women as they transition through a divorce, spent her first post-divorce New Year’s Eve with one of her best girlfriends. The two women rented a limo, ate dinner at a fancy restaurant, and kissed each other on the cheek at midnight.
Besides kissing friends, Christine’s got other suggestions for those of us who are single and not quite ready to mingle. “Close your eyes at midnight and remember your favourite kiss,” Christine says. “Or get a big bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, and eat a dozen of them at midnight.” If you want to be really cheesy and aren’t worried about embarrassing yourself in public, make a photocopy of your dream New Year’s Eve date and give him or her a big smack.
Or take it from another very romanticized piece of popular culture and think, “A kiss is just a kiss.”