Why do people think that they have to kiss someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve? For the past several days I repeatedly run into comments about the importance of “the kiss,” and honestly I just don’t get it. Of course I don’t usually make a big deal about New Year’s Eve anyway. But the whole custom seems rather strange to me.

LipsApparently some people take it quite seriously, and become depressed if they don’t have someone to kiss at midnight. Last week there was a newspaper article that described how some people carefully plan their “kiss.” Some have even advertised on Craig’s List for a kissing partner for the big night. One women tells about how at midnight there was no one else around, so she had “no choice” but to kiss her best friend. She resolved to plan ahead this year so that wouldn’t happen again.

You might think that this is a very strange topic for me to write about for my last post of 2006, but I was curious about the origin of this custom. As long as I was looking up some information I thought that I would share it with you. I couldn’t find a lot, but most of the explanations seem to fall into the following categories: (1) It adds to the good cheer of the celebration. (2) The first person you come in contact with in the new year is indicative of your luck, good or bad, for the year. (3) The first person you kiss is a sign of matters of the heart for the new year. (This is really a special case of #2). According to an article on ABC news, the second theory originates in German and English folklore, and it does seem to explain why kissing exactly at midnight is so important.

Since this site is called “Reflections,” I will now share my take on all this. It seems unlikely to me that so many modern people would give credence to an old superstition. I doubt that most of them really believe that what happens at midnight has any bearing on how their year will progress. There is a certain romantic aspect for those in a committed relationship to share a kiss at midnight. But that does not explain the significant number of people who kiss someone that they barely know or even a total stranger at midnight. In this case it seems to be an attempt by lonely people to fill the emptiness in their lives by feigning an intimacy that is not really there. If they are not in a committed relationship, they can at least pretend that they are. People do the same thing with sex, but intimacy without commitment is a false and fleeting comfort. Real relationships require commitment, time, and sacrifice.

Perhaps you have other thoughts on the matter, or perhaps you think that I am really lame to be sitting at home on New Year’s Eve writing on my blog. But I really have no desire to run out and kiss a total stranger. I’d rather be home with my family.

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