It’s been several months since since I posted anything from my days with Weekly World News, the World’s Most Reliable Newspaper. Here’s a piece that ran in the end-of-2006 issue:

© Weekly World News

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Every year as the clock ticks down to midnight on December 31, a giant, glittering Waterford crystal ball of light descends from a flagpole to the roof of One Times Square. At the stroke of midnight the ball touches bottom and the crowd of almost one million people goes wild in celebration of the New Year!

This uniquely New York tradition dates back to 1906 and has come to symbolize New Year’s Eve to most of the world.

But December 31 isn’t New Year’s Eve for everyone. “Many cultures follow different calendars and observe their own New Years on days other than December 31,” New York’s Deputy Mayor for Cultural Affairs, Frank Daley told Weekly World News.

Since New York is a melting pot of all peoples and cultures, the municipal government has made an effort to include these diverse celebrations in its Times Square tradition. “For instance,” Deputy Mayor Daly said, “on the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hoshanah, which falls on the first and second days of the Hebrew calendar in the month of Tishri, or around mid- to late-September, people gather at sundown—the traditional start of the new day—in Times Square to watch the dropping of a giant, illuminated matzoh ball.

“Now, the Chinese follow a lunar calendar and celebrate their New Year in January or February, which we commemorate with the dropping of a giant dim sum, while the Chinese New Year, also in February, gets its very own electric dumpling. It’s all quite festive. And delicious.”

Other New Year ornaments include the Korean Ttok-kuk, or rice cake soup bowl, Banh Trang, the Vietnamese rice paper-wrapped delicacy, which is dropped into a giant dish of dipping sauce, the mid-April celebrations of the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala with the vada, or deep fried doughnuts made from a batter of lentils, and appam, a pancake made of fermented rice flour, respectively.

“We also celebrate the New Years of the Muslim faith, of Sinhala, Tibet, Iran, the Telugu, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Thailand … you name it, New York drops something to celebrate it,” Deputy Mayor Daley proudly proclaimed.

But a thorough examination of the holiday list showed the March observance of the Assyrian New Year, Rish Nissanu, was missing.

“Whoops, I guess we dropped the ball on that one,” the deputy mayor sheepishly admitted. “Or, in this case, didn’t drop it.”


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