The Real Reason A New Year's Eve Midnight Kiss Became A Tradition

As anyone who's celebrated New Year's Eve knows, following the, "3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Happy New Year!!" is most often a big ol' smack on the lips, hopefully with the significant other you came to the party with, or perhaps an appealing stranger you happen to be standing next to, boding well for romance in the coming new year. Worst case scenario, it's a skeezy rando you'll never see again.

According to History, it's generally accepted that the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe around Christmas time began with Celtic druids. Mistletoe is the rare plant that flourishes in the winter months, and for this reason, it's associated with fertility. The importance of mistletoe, and kissing underneath it, also has roots in Norse mythology. But why is it also a tradition to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve? The real reason, it turns out, has its roots in a very similar part of the world.

Kissing at midnight on New Years is a Scottish tradition

According to Snopes, motivating some people to kiss when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve is to simply celebrate the occasion with a loved one and to get the year off on a happy note. There's also an enduring superstition that failing to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve portends a year of loneliness. The truth of the matter is, though, that people have been kissing at midnight on New Year's Eve for a very long time, and it all began in Scotland.

Per Historic UK, the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay — the Scots word for the last day of the year — stretches back before the time of Christianity, and was probably imported with the Vikings. For this reason, New Year's has been a bigger deal in Scotland for much longer than even Christmas. A number of New Year's traditions come from Hogmanay, including a torchlight procession (pictured above) paying off bills, cleaning the house, and celebrating with friends. 

Wherever there are friends celebrating with perhaps a little whiskey, there's bound to be some kissing. In fact, Historic UK writes that kissing "friends and strangers" is an "integral part of the Hogmanay party." Also part of Hogmanay is "first footing," or that the first person in the house after midnight should be a dark-haired male. If you have to kiss anyone on New Year's Eve, that doesn't sound like a bad place to start.