New Year’s Eve essentials are as follows: a great outfit (that probably includes some sparkles), champagne, something to pop or make noise with and a great guy or gal by your side to smooch once the countdown hits 1. Of course, this kissable person can also be your mom, or your son, your neighbor or even that cute stranger at the bar, but the point is that everyone’s going to be fiending for a kiss at midnight.
Of course, the easy answer to why we ring in the new year with a kiss is that the moment is all about hope for the future and being with those you love: “Kiss the one you want to keep kissing throughout the year,” or a kiss at midnight will bring you luck in love, or something like that.
But this tradition could go so far back as the ancient Romans. Every year, they would celebrate the Festival of Saturnalia during the latter weeks of December to honor the god Saturn. The festival was apparently full of debauchery: gambling, drinking and lots of loving and appreciating each other with gifts and food.
There weren’t many rules during Saturnalia, and a lot of experts believe that Saturnalia is where the midnight kiss began, as more of a scandalous approach to festivities was taken at the time.
As most practices do, this trickled down to other parts of Europe, and during the Renaissance, people loved to throw masquerade balls on New Year’s Eve, where the masks would represent the casting away of evil spirits and leaving them in the past. At midnight, they’d remove their masks and “purify” the year to come with a kiss.
Folklore also came along and started the superstition that you’d have bad luck and not find love in the new year if you didn’t start it off with a kiss.
Of course, that’s not actually rooted in reality, and a third glass of champagne can totally stand in for that New Year’s kiss should you choose.