We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Why Do People Kiss on New Year’s Eve?

A young couple sharing a New year's eve kiss with sparklers.
4 PM production/Shutterstock.com

New Year’s Eve is a festive time for folks to gather, wish farewell to the past year, and welcome new beginnings. For some of us, those new beginnings start with a little smooch.

At the stroke of midnight, we rush around crowds to find a stranger, or we grab hold of our significant other and smack lips to celebrate! But how did this frivolous tradition come to be so popular?

How did the New Year’s Kiss Tradition Begin?

A group of friends celebrating the new year with sparklers.
Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock.com

Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are all about traditions and sharing love with others. Some of us enjoy lavish dinner parties filled with crowded tables of decadent meals, while others bring on the bubbly booze for an all-night party.

If you’ve ever partied it up on NYE, then chances are you kept those eyes open till midnight to count down until the infamous ball drops at Time Square in New York City. All around, you’ll notice couples pecking each other on the lips.

With all that midnight kissing going on, we wondered about the origins and did a little digging. According to Readers Digest, the custom traces back to two ancient winter festivals, Saturnalia and Hogmanay!

Party Squawkers

Bring on the noise with these festive squawkers.

Saturnalia was a massive festival in ancient Rome that celebrated the winter solstice. With lots of drinking and kissing going on to celebrate the beginning of a new season, there’s reason to believe that the new year’s kissing tradition likely followed.

Hogmanay was a winter festival celebrated by the Vikings in Scotland, where kisses were exchanged to celebrate the new year. The lip-smacking custom likely made its way to America with the help of German immigrants in the 1800s. Like several other festive traditions, Americans were quick to adopt.

A Few Alternative Ways to Ring in The New Year

Friends giving a hug to celebrate the new year.

Not everyone feels enthusiastic about finding a stranger to lock lips with at midnight. Whether you’re in a long-distance relationship or aren’t currently looking for romance, there are plenty of other ways to ring in the new year.

If you’re dreading the countdown this New Year’s Eve, consider trying some of these ideas instead.

  • Group hug: Find a group of friends and celebrate the new year with a big group hug!
  • Text someone you love: Pick a friend or family member and send them a heartwarming text to show them you’re thinking about them.
  • Send a snap: Take a Snapchat of yourself blowing a kiss and send it to all your favorite people.
  • Head Outside: If you’re an introvert, you may prefer stepping outside or away from the party. Take a deep breath; it’s time for new beginnings.
  • Take a moment for yourself: Even if there’s nowhere to hide, take this time to reflect on the last 365 days. What goals and intentions do you want to set for yourself this new year?

Confetti Cannons

Celebrate the new year with a fun confetti explosion.

The tradition of kissing on the eve of a new year has been around for centuries, but making fresh memories and starting new traditions can be just as (or more) fun!

NYE should be a time to enjoy family and friends and set good intentions for the upcoming months, but aside from kissing and hugging, there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate the new year.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?