It’s almost time to ring in the New Year — which of course means lots of fireworks, ball drops and champagne bottles! But while these popular New Year’s traditions have come to be a big part of NYE celebrations every year, there’s one image that’s perhaps the most enduring symbol of the New Year’s holiday: a baby wearing a top hat and sash, otherwise known as “Baby New Year.” But what is Baby New Year, exactly, and how did this popular New Year’s symbol come about?
Often seen as a representation of the coming year, Baby New Year actually has its origins in ancient Greece — and has since then become a popular holiday staple throughout New Year’s history. But if you’re wondering how this age-old (and adorable) representation of the New Year’s holiday came about, here’s a look at the fascinating story behind how Baby New Year was born — and how he came to be such a beloved New Year’s symbol over the years.
What is Baby New Year?
Baby New Year is a popular personification of the start of the new year, symbolizing the “rebirth” of the past year into the next. Usually a male infant wearing nothing else than a diaper, a top hat and a sash (which sometimes shows the year he is representing), Baby New Year is often paired with another mythical figure called “Father Time” — an elderly man carrying a scythe and hourglass who’s depicted as the personification of passing time. As the story goes, Baby New Year will age and eventually grow into Father Time by the end of the year in December, at which time he will then turn over his timekeeping duties — and impart his aged wisdom — to the next Baby New Year born on January 1.