|Marking The Transition
||[Jan. 1st, 2011|10:37 am]
My friend Judy- a New Yorker in exile- writes to tell me she saw the New Year in playing parlour games at a friend's house in Nashville. She bullied and cajoled her friends to put the TV on so she could watch the ball dropping in Times Square, which happened, of course, at 11 o'clock Tennessee time.|
The first time I saw the ball drop was- I think- in that very bad attempt to revive (and Americanise) the Dr Who franchise, with Paul McGann as the Doctor and Julia Roberts' little bro as the Master. The ball was linked to a Doomsday device- and obviously the Doctor disarmed it with seconds to spare. But why a ball? Why have it drop? How old is this tradition? Is there some sort of roulette symbolism going on?
Here in Britain the birth of the New Year is signalled by the midnight chimes of Big Ben. I didn't listen in this year. In fact I was in bed- but only just. I timed things so I was slipping between the sheets a minute or two before the fireworks began. I used not to be this way, but fireworks make me nervous.
Weatherwise the first day of 2011 is much like the last day of 2010, but not quite as gloomy.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
We were fast asleep long before midnight. There were no fireworks in this sleepy place, no chiming bell towers, and I could not possibly care less about what they get up to in New York City.
I do not think I have ever seen the point of New Year's celebrations. For those that enjoy such celebrations, though, I do not suppose there has to be a point.
And to you.
I enjoy (and need) my sleep too much to stay up all night partying.
1907 – Walter F. Palmer, chief electrician for The Times, creates the first New Year’s Eve Ball in response to the behest of publisher Adolph Ochs to create some kind of spectacular midnight show that would draw attention to the Square. The New Year’s Eve Ball first descended from a flagpole at One Times Square, constructed with iron and wood materials with 100 25-watt bulbs weighing 700 pounds (320 kg) and measuring 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. At first, it dropped 1 second after midnight.
So the tradition is over 100 years old! Thank you for that.
At 5pm local time last night, I listened to the bells of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna as they rang in 2011. An hour later I listened to Big Ben.
I love livestreaming via the Internet. O brave new world!
Happy New Year!
2011-01-01 02:18 pm (UTC)
The New Year's ball is descended from the "Noon Balls" that some cities and towns in the eastern US had. Which in turn, copied the British version (except the British version dropped at 1PM generally) They used to drop a ball to indicate noon...which could very quite widely, before the introduction of standardized time zones. The ball would be raised partially at 5 minutes to, and then all the way at 2 minutes to. The time (noon in the US, 1PM in the UK) happened when the time ball began descending, NOT when it hit the bottom. The ball on a mast was used because it was easily visible (in ports, it was what sailors looked for to determine the ship's clocks) With the practice of having a time signal on the radio starting in the 20's (again, 1PM in Britain and in Commonwealth countries, but now, many stations around the world will have some "signal" at the top of the hour, and some, even at the bottom as well), time balls became obsolete, fell into disuse, and where demolished....but the Times Square time ball found a new purpose....as part of New Year's Eve celebrations. And it's purposely rigged to last exactly a minute, and it is when it reaches the bottom that the time happens.
Grenwich observatory still has a time ball, as does Port Lyttelton in New Zealand.
2011-01-01 04:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Time Balls....
That's fascinating. I had no idea that time balls were once so
common. I can see how useful they would have been to ships at sea.
2011-01-01 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Time Balls....
writes, Time Balls must have been brought to America by the British. To this day, Leeds has a magnificent example
of one that's still in daily use.
Fascinating. Next time I'm over in Leeds I need to search that out.
Ah, but that is western Tennessee, as eastern Tennessee (where I live) is in the eastern standard time zone. Kate and I watched the same ball dropping at midnight, and we then opened the front door and blew our two horns, green and blue. I told her I felt like the weird ladies in Thurber cartoons, and that perhaps she and I should wrap ourselves in shawls and run around the lawn from tree to tree blowing our little horns and calling out to night birds: "too-wit, too-woo!"
How odd to have two time zones within a single state.
I like the horn-blowing.