SHOW NOTES: Auld Anxiety


Nerds on History


Episode No. 68 — Auld Anxiety


Fresh off their trip to Las Vegas’s New Media Expo, Eric and Bryan offer a belated look at New Year’s traditions from across the globe, and reawaken deep-seated childhood fears.


Even though we were on break during the New Year, Eric and I still wanted to share some New Years traditions that we found intriguing ,  as well as our recent trip to Vegas.  Let’s work backwards, shall we?

Eric, Sean and I attended the New Media Expo at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in early January.    It was a fun, but rather expensive weekend.  Nevertheless, we got some great information out of it, plus we got to meet major internet marketing names like Pat Flynn, and of course, we got to see Penn & Teller…which was awesome!  We also owe a HUGE thanks to our good friend and fellow blogger/podcaster Kaila Prins a.k.a. Miss Skinny Genes (In My Skinny Genesfor joining on the trip, introducing us to some great people, and for helping share driving duties on the long, 9-hour drive both ways.  2014 is going to be a bigger, better year for Nerdonomy because of this experience.

Speaking of 2014,  let’s get to New Year’s (if it wasn’t already bad enough that we are tackling it mid-January).  Eric and I decided to start with the traditions we all know and honor.  Here are some fun facts:

  • The famous Times Square New Year’s celebration dates back to 1904.
  • The famous dropping of the time ball ceremony has been around since 1907.  By the way,  Time balls have a long, though now out-dated, history of being a maritime method of telling time.
  • The classic, though often mis-sung song Auld Lang Syne dates back to approximately the late 18th century, with the oldest version in writing being attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns.  It was musician Guy Lombardo who turned the song into the perennial staple that it is today.

Then we decided to jump around the world and share traditions from across the globe.  Here are some more fun facts we learned along the way:

  • In Spain and Mexico, it’s a common tradition to eat twelve grapes, one for each month of the year.  If you eat each trap in sync with the last 12 seconds of the year, the new year will be filled with good luck.
  • Many New Year’s traditions are based around the the preparation for Spring, or the vernal equinox itself, as demonstrated by celebrations in China, Iran, and Sri Lanka.
  • Gift-giving seems to be a common theme in these traditions as well, as well at the New Year’s celebration in Russia, which was fashioned as a replacement for Christmas during the rise of communism in the Soviet Union, which carries on to this day.

We also discovered some fascinating traditions, such as:

  • In the Netherlands, they ring in the new year by burning their Christmas trees as bonfires.
  • In Germany, Austria, and in the Nordic countries, there is still a practice of divination in place by dropping molten tin into cold water, and reading the sculpture as a prediction of the new year.  Known as uudenvuodentina, this was the basis for our episode’s cold open.
  • In Ecuador, it’s common to make figures of the people in your life you’d rather be rid of, and burn them in effigy as a way of going out with the old, and in with the new year.

However, as always, DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT!!   Seek the information out for yourself; you’ll be surprised on the journey it takes you.


New Year in Spain —

New Year’s Traditions —

New Year’s Traditions Explained —

New Year’s Traditions Around the World, and their Origins —

Stay Nerdy, Friends!


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