The New Year has arrived. As people begin to travel, gather together and participate in end-of-the-year celebrations, two terms will be flung about the party like confetti -- “bringing in the New Year” and “ringing in the New Year.” The idioms that are hotly debated each year as one camp is convinced their version is correct and the other disagrees.
Which is actually correct? As it turns out, there’s no wrong answer to this question. “Bringing” is obviously correct as the sentence means saying goodbye to the old year and trotting the new one out for all to see. When it works, it works.
Meanwhile, “ringing” holds a significance for the holiday that’s deeply rooted in the age-old tradition. According to Kris Spisak, a professional writing blog, the phrase has to do with the early practice of ringing bells at celebrations. Eventually, when the changing of the year became a regularly celebrated holiday, bells joined the party. Towns let them chime around midnight on Dec. 31 each year to celebrate the beginning and the end. There is even a poem written in 1850 by Alfred Lord Tennyson that discusses this tradition, titled, “Ring Out, Wild Bells.”
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.
The bell ringing tradition doesn’t simply end at celebrations. Bells are a deeply spiritual part of ushering in both life and death for ancient cultures that recognize the Dec. 31 Gregorian calendar date – an apt metaphor for the changing of the New Year.
BoweryBoogie states that the forerunner to the New Year’s bell is something called the “passing bell.” This was rung every time someone died because it was believed the bell’s noise carried the power to banish the devils that laid in wait for the soul to leave the departed's body. The bells would ensure the devils were kept at bay and the gates of heaven knew to open for the departed soul.
So, this year, when you’re clinging your glasses as the ball drops, remember to bring in the New Year by ringing in the New Year. Whether or not it will ward off evil spirits, announce the year’s end to the town or simply make your party guests smile – it’s a tradition worth keeping.