We’re all familiar with the North American custom of showering the New Year’s Day Baby (or the first baby born on Jan. 1 in any given hospital, city or province) with gifts and prizes. It’s a fun way to celebrate a new year and a new life. Plus, I’m sure that expectant parents with due dates on or around January 1st probably get a kick out the “race” to be first. I know my competitive spirit would kick into overdrive if it were my baby!
Baby New Year
“Baby New Year” has traditionally been known as more of a mythical creature, a symbolic baby to personify the concept of a new year, a new life. It is only in more recent years that we have begun to honour living newborn babies and give them the label of Baby New Year.
A baby has been used to symbolize the New Year as far back as the year 600 BC. The Greeks, who traditionally celebrated Dionysus, the God of Wine at this time of year, used to parade around with a baby in a basket. The baby represented the annual rebirth of Dionysus as the spirit of fertility. In Egypt babies were used as a symbol of rebirth and early Christians also celebrated the New Year with symbolic babies. Christmas, after all, originated in the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus at the turning of the year.
The Baby New Year most often depicted in comics is typically chubby and closer to toddler, than to newborn. He also tends to age rapidly, becoming an elderly man by the year’s end. On the following New Year’s Eve, the aged baby will hand off his duties to a new New Year’s Eve Baby.
So now that we’ve covered the historical aspect of the New Year’s Day baby, let’s discuss how to qualify as a New Year’s Day Baby – you know, in case you were interested in trying for it.
The Race Is On!
According to the Loyola University Health system, a hospital out of the Chicago area in the United States, in order for the birth to “count” as a contender for any New Year’s prizes, a baby must have completely exited its mother. The umbilical cord, however, does not need to have been cut.
There is some stiff competition out there for the title of New Year’s Baby. Some midwives and doctors have reported women holding back during labour in order to try for the title. Others have admitted to actually holding the head steady until the clock has struck 12 before completely delivering the baby!
While the odds of giving birth first on Jan. 1st are pretty slim, it could still be a lot of fun to try for it!