Origin of the New Year Kiss

Where did the tradition of kissing on New Year’s come from? Historians date this practice back to the Ancient Romans who would throw a big party every New Year’s Eve called the Festival of Saturnalia where they would kiss and generally debauch one another as much as possible.

Later on, the English and Germans would celebrate by kissing the first person they met when the bells rang twelve o’clock. 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.

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

Tradition and superstition aside, don’t waste your New Year’s kiss. It is one of our most life-affirming pleasures and only comes around so many times. Tonight, use it as an excuse to grab hold of someone you love, someone you’ve had a crush on for ages, or someone who is standing by the drinks table with nice lips. Throw some confetti in the air, grab them round the waist, lean them back and kiss them with everything you’ve got.

Happy New Year!