I am somewhat confused by the symbolism of many new year countdowns “traditionally” accompanied with things that drop—crystal ball, stiletto, boot, watermelon, peach, pineapple, moon pie, chunk of cheese, live possum, nut and what nots.
Willfully or accidentally, what does it really mean when things are dropped?
From Saba Hamedy’s report in the LA Times on the crystal ball drop: “There is a real emotional connection” with the dropping ball, said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, an organizer of Times Square New Year’s Eve. “It’s a shared moment. So when you think about all the drops, that’s a big sign of our success.”
So, for some weird reason “all the drops” is a sign of success? Seriously, since when did a drop generally and typically signify success?
We can perhaps put the blame squarely on the shoulder of one electrician named Walter F. Painer, who started this trend by suggesting the use of a “time ball” to be dropped in New York City’s Times Square, welcoming the year 1908. Painer got this idea when he saw one used on the nearby Western Union Building.
But, really, why copy a drop?
The more I think about it, I am more convinced that it makes more sense if things do rise up instead of drop, specially on an occasion as individually and collectively important as welcoming a new year, every year.
Drops are typically associated with things breaking, signifying a measure of bad luck. Who would want to usher in a new year with something like that? And yet, that’s what we’ve been doing—dropping things year after year. Because it’s tradition?
Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole “dropping” tradition. Maybe we’d be better off if we do the opposite—raise things up instead. It takes willpower, strength and skill to raise things up—widely considered to be some of the most essential ingredients of success. Besides, historically and culturally, raising things up generally carry positive connotations such as in the symbolic rising of the Phoenix from ashes, and the celebration of countless individual and collective achievements when reaching new, dazzling heights.
So, instead of letting things drop with gravity, why not defy it? We should be really raising thing.
Remember, hell is down below, and heaven is way up there.