The ridiculous fairy tale of a New Year’s Eve kiss

Penelope Magnani talks about the tradition of kissing on New Year’s Eve. Is it myth or is it real? 

One of my favorite movies of all times is ‘When Harry met Sally’. It’s cute and cheesy and extremely predictable, but call me hopeless romantic that movie gets me every time. The infamous scene in which Meg Ryan is at the New Year’s Eve party and Billy Crystal goes to find her and professes his love to her. And between various ‘I love you’ and ‘I hate you’, the most romantic midnight kiss scene of the cinematic universe happens. Pass me the tissue box, please. 

The midnight kiss that kicks off the final romance. You see it in every possible Christmas movie ever. The two main characters find themselves two minutes before midnight, in either a quaint little town or New York – and even there it’s either in Times Square or the most fashionable party ever – there is no in between, and after professing their premature ‘I love you’ they share a passionate kiss just as the clock ticks midnight on the New Year. Fireworks go off and joyous festivities are all around, seemingly celebrating the new blooming relationship between the characters. 

Fireworks/ Picture taken from

In real life it’s not exactly like that. By 11:30 pm you’ve already finished the wine bottle that was less than a fiver from Tesco. Your vision is quite blurry and you are most definitive a drunk mess. You stumble around the room, grabbing more to drink, thinking it’s a good idea. If you’re in a relationship, you hope that your significant other is in a better state than you – they are not – but at least you have that certainty of the magical kiss. If you’re single, by now you’ve already texted three of your exes an ‘I miss you text’ although, let’s be honest, you don’t miss them. When the midnight strikes, and you find yourself in two possible situations: kissing a stranger which you’ll regret doing or throwing up in the nearest toilet/bush/sidewalk. Not exactly the classy and refined New Year as promised by Hollywood. 

Obviously the next morning, in between glasses of water and greasy food to cure the hangover, you’ll text your group chat something along the lines of ‘I’m never drinking again’ and ‘I hate being single on New Years’. You’ll then watch some other classic romance movie, wondering how it is possible that your midnight kiss was never like the one in ‘When Harry met Sally’ or “Bridget Jones’s Diary”. 

Truthfully, we have an obsession with New Year’s Eve. We all want it to be the perfect time, with the perfect people, the perfect outfit and, of course, the perfect kiss. If you’re single, you want to find that handsome prince charming for exactly 5 minutes. Talk about quick romance. 

But why can’t we be contempt with simply kissing a second wine bottle? Why do we have to always go out of our own way to find that elusive New Year kiss? In reality, there are quite a few traditions behind it. In Roman times it was done on the Festival of Saturnalia, in mid-December. The midnight kiss was part of the celebrations. In the Renaissance, at the typical masquerade balls, at midnight the people would kiss to purify the forces of evil. In more recent western tradition it’s considered extremely unlucky if someone fails to be kissed at New Year. That will lead to a year of loneliness. Of course, it’s only an old tale, but we still keep this tradition alive. 

Truthfully, it is unimportant if it happens or not. We all want our five minute romance at the beginning of the year. And at the end of the day, we can see how it can be considered good luck. Starting the year off with someone, and – crossed fingers –, ending it with someone as well might just be the cherry on the cake. But again, it is unimportant. What’s important is that we celebrate this festivity and the beginning of the New Year with our loved ones.  

So prepare your wine bottles, party hats and good spirits and happy New Year! 

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