Saturday, 31 December 2011

History of New Years Eve in the U.K.

New Year's Eve has long been a time for celebrations and known for feasts and one too many alcholic beverages. In 1740, Rt. Rev. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church started "Watchnight" services on New Years Eve, also known as Covenant Renewal Services. The services were intended as a godly alternative to 'drunken revelry' and are still popular within the Methodist Church and in many African-American Church communities.
In the U.K., 152 year old Big Ben in the Clock Tower in London is the main focus on New Years Eve. On 31 December 1923, the midnight chime of Big Ben was broadcast live for the first time when BBC engineer AG Dryland climbed up on to a roof top opposite the Houses of Parliament with his recording equipment!
Big Ben, New Years Eve celebrations
The tradition of listening to Big Ben's chime on New Years Eve has remained, and is now recorded by a BBC microphone within the Clock Tower. My own Grandmother tells of how the family gathered around the wireless to listen to the chimes followed by Auld Lang Syne and to toast the New Year with a glass of sherry. Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne, or in English "Old Long Since", had been poular in Scotland at New Year since the 18th century and quickly spread to other parts of the U.K.

Here is a link to a short video on the BBC archive website from 1936, talking about the first recording of Big Ben's chimes:
How the Big Ben chimes were first recorded for broadcast by the BBC

How will you be spending New Years Eve 2011??

Wishing you all the very best!

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