Happy New Year – The New York Times
Today we look back. We focused on past New Years events that resonated in this unusual year.
The Times’ first New Year’s Eve: The newspaper, founded in September 1851, reported on their first New Year’s Eve less than four months later. It promoted “end-of-year” religious ceremonies and New Year gift deals. On January 1, the newspaper listed the notable deaths and “major events” of the past year, including a storm that struck Massachusetts, a world exposition in London and a coup in France.
Civil war: On December 30, 1862, Union troops played “Yankee Doodle” and “Hail Columbia” near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Their Confederate enemies responded with “Dixie” and the two sides ended the night together with “Home, Sweet Home”. The following battle, fought between New Year’s Eve and January 2, 1863, was one of the deadliest of the war.
Also on New Year’s Eve, 1862, abolitionists held vigils while they waited for President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He did so the next day and freed enslaved people in the states that had separated from the Union. The vigils became the origin of the New Year’s services that some African American churches still hold.
First World War: America entered World War I in 1917, and Times Square on New Year’s Eve that year was “thoroughly calm and solemn,” the Times reported. Soldiers and sailors who were forbidden to drink sat in restaurants and hotels. Sugar was rationed and dinner at the Waldorf Astoria was meatless. Broadway, “ankle-deep in confetti” a year earlier, was “gloomy, deserted and quiet”.