You’ve got your look fully assembled, your epic party plans set, and New Year’s Eve is shaping up to be memorable AF. The only problem? You’re dreading that moment when the clock strikes midnight. While people around you may be grabbing their partners (or total strangers) to lock lips, you don’t want a New Year’s Eve kiss. That’s totally OK. Besides, there are so many other ways to make the holiday memorable than simply participating in this tradition out of a sense of obligation (or straight-up FOMO).
As it turns out, this New Year’s tradition started in Ancient Rome, with a week-long festival called Saturnalia (which lasted from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23). During this festival, Romans celebrated Saturn, the agricultural god, and historians believe that their debauchery included a midnight kiss. Later, at New Year’s masquerade balls during the Renaissance, people removed their masks (which represented evil) and kissed as a symbolic act of purifying each other, thus providing a clean slate for the upcoming year.
As traditions do, this one has definitely evolved — and these days, the midnight kiss seems to be more about feeling celebratory or romantic vibes, or having an Instagram-worthy photo to post.
“There are expectations and pressures we have internalized that NYE has to be a special night, and that often includes having someone to kiss,” says Melanie Shapiro, a licensed clinical social worker.
As Shapiro points out, the pressure to find a kissing partner (and have a memorable night) can be overwhelming. But when you really stop to think about it, kissing someone at midnight may not even be something you're interested in doing. And guess what? That gut feeling is not only totally normal, but also crucial to listen to.
“We don’t need to comply with other people’s expectations or pressures,” Shapiro tells Elite Daily. “Just because friends, family, and society may send this message, it is not one you have to adhere to. It’s important to stay grounded in our own thoughts, beliefs, and expectations — at all times, and especially on NYE.”
In other words, you get to define what your idea of fun is. And if that doesn’t include a midnight kiss, more power to you. In fact, Shapiro says your nonconformism makes you kind of a bad*ss.
“It just says that you don’t feel the need to comply with traditions or others expectations of you,” adds Shapiro. “You are your own person, on your own timeline, respecting your own needs.”
So, now you’ve established that your feelings are totally valid. But before you don your glittery best and bust out the sparklers, you may want to prepare for certain potential in which you have to assert yourself. There’s always a chance that someone might ask to kiss you, or attempt to make that move without asking. And it’s incredibly helpful to know how you’ll handle that ahead of time so you can stick to your guns and avoid doing anything you’re not into.
If someone’s been coming on strong leading up to the midnight countdown, you can always excuse yourself to the bathroom when the ball drops. Shapiro says a timely escape, even if you just sneak into the next room to chat with a friend, is a great way to avoid an uncomfortable situation. I can't stress this enough: You don't owe anyone a kiss, even if it is New Year's Eve.
“Surrounding yourself with a group of friends who are all celebrating together at midnight to avoid being cornered with one person who may have expectations of a kiss you don’t want to share,” she adds.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t want a midnight kiss on New Year’s, then congratulations — not only are you super in touch with your personal boundaries and desires, but you’re willing to defy societal expectations to define fun in your own individual way. Don't ever let anyone make you think that you're not enough when it comes to ringing in a new year in a meaningful way. When it comes down to it, New Year’s Eve is supposed to be about setting a positive tone for the coming year. TBH, I can’t think of a better way to accomplish that than by respecting your true feelings and taking care of your needs.
Melanie Shapiro, licensed clinical social worker