The History of the New Year’s Kiss

Why do we feel the need to smooch someone on the last night of the year?

When I began to think about New Year’s Eve, I wondered about why it’s customary to kiss a special someone while Auld Lang Syne plays in the background.

Here is a brief history of the New Year’s Kiss, with some personal anecdotes thrown in.

The Beginning of the New Year’s Kiss

New Year’s kiss traditions began in ancient Rome. They would throw a party on New Year’s Eve for the Festival of Saturnalia. Kissing and lots of reckless behavior would ensue. Sound familiar to New Years past?

Speaking of Saturnalia, the festival is partly to blame for the kissing under the mistletoe tradition. People would kiss under the plant in ancient Greece as it was associated with fertility and in Rome, it represented peace.

Later, English and Germans would kiss the first person they met at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The story behind this is that the first person you came across in the new year sets the tone for that year. This thought scares my anxious mind! If you knew your New Year’s kiss back then, superstition was that your smooch would sustain your new romance and made you closer to your loved one.

Europeans have also held masquerade balls on New Year’s Eve. Back then, masks were symbols of evil spirits from the previous year and when they were removed and the person was kissed, it was a cleansing act.

If you’re single and often feel left out on December 31st, you could always head to Scotland. Their celebration, called Hogmanay, involves kissing everyone in the room. The effort is to have people meet each other and perhaps might make single people feel more involved.

My Thoughts on the Tradition

I must confess, I’ve never been that big of a fan of New Year’s Eve. I think there’s always such anticipation for something huge and it almost always ends in disappointment. I’ve found so much more love and coziness at home. In fact, I’ve spent every New Year’s Eve at home with my family.

The last few years, my boyfriend has joined us and there’s nothing more romantic to me than curling up by the fire with him and our bulldog Moe as we watch the ball drop in Times Square. We do have a quick New Year’s Eve peck (hey my parents are usually there too!). That laid-back type of New Year’s has become my favorite way to spend the evening. I feel very loved on those New Year’s Eves surrounded by family.

However, that being said, my dream is for one year (just one!) to attend a New Year’s party much like the two Harry and Sally attended in my favorite movie When Harry Met Sally.

Movies and New Year’s Eve Kisses

Speaking of When Harry Met Sally, the New Year’s Eve scene will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the scene an ex-boyfriend used back in college to tell me how he felt about me. It always made me keep some magic alive about New Year’s Eve—and to understand the romance of it all.

Then there’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. I have always had a soft spot for the big end scene with one of the most romantic New Year’s Eve kisses ever. When Bridget Jones runs out half naked to Mark Darcy to finally share a passionate kiss, it’s everything. I’d like to think any New Year’s cynics are changed when they watch this scene.

Movies and New Year’s Eve Kisses

Speaking of When Harry Met Sally, the New Year’s Eve scene will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the scene an ex-boyfriend used back in college to tell me how he felt about me. It always made me keep some magic alive about New Year’s Eve—and to understand the romance of it all.

Then there’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. I have always had a soft spot for the big end scene with one of the most romantic New Year’s Eve kisses ever. When Bridget Jones runs out half naked to Mark Darcy to finally share a passionate kiss, it’s everything. I’d like to think any New Year’s cynics are changed when they watch this scene.

New Year’s Eve 2018

If there’s one thing I learned about New Year’s Eve is that you don’t have to be with someone to feel love. I have spent approximately six December 31sts in a relationship and the other 27 single. When I was old enough to date and single, I loved spending the last night of each year with people I love. Kissing someone like your parent on the cheek can be just as meaningful as kissing a significant other. Sometimes a little reminder about how much you are loved, no matter who the person is all you need. Happy New Year, LoveTV!

Want to read more on relationships? Check out this piece about not letting your insecurities get the best of you.

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The History of the New Year’s Kiss

About The Author
- Kate is a freelance writer and piano teacher living in the D.C. area with her boyfriend and dog. Kate has written for Brides.com, LA Confidential, Capitol File, Amendo, Pittsburgh Beautiful, The Georgetowner, The Washingtonian and other publications. She loves entertaining, kids, dogs, cozy nights in and hanging out with her friends.