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About 100 years ago, a tradition began in New York on New Year’s Eve. Every year, thousands of people go to Times Square to celebrate the new year. But what’s so special about Times Square?
© Xackery Irving / Shutterstock.com
At one minute before midnight, a huge ball with lights drops slowly down a pole in Times Square. It takes 60 seconds for the ball to go from the top of the pole to the bottom. When the ball reaches the bottom, it’s midnight! People shout “Happy New Year!” and kiss each other.
Today, the ball in Times Square has strobe lights and is controlled by a computer. But it wasn’t always like that. There are seven different versions of the Times Square ball. The first one was an iron structure with light bulbs. There is also an aluminium ball, and a ball that looks like a big apple. Why? Because New York is called the Big Apple, of course!
Where does this tradition come from?
The Times Square ball was inspired by nautical time balls. In the 19th century, navigators on ships needed a standard way to set their chronometers and synchronize their instruments. So, harbourmasters and observatories lowered a metal ball on a pole every day at the same time. Sailors watched the ball and set the time when it reached the bottom of the pole.
New York uses this nautical concept as a fun way to count down the last minute of every year. During World War II, there were two years when New York did not drop the ball. People went to Times Square for a minute’s silence, but there was no celebration. In 2020, the ball dropped down the pole, but people didn’t go to Times Square. Why? Because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Let’s cross our fingers for the Times Squares Ball Drop 2021!
huge = énorme
to drop = faire tomber
a pole = mât
to reach = arriver à
to kiss each other = de s’embrasser (mutuellement)
strobe = stroboscopique
iron = du fer
a light bulb = une ampoule
to look like = ressembler à
to set = mettre à l’heure
a harbourmaster = un capitaine de port
to lower = baisser
to cross fingers = croiser les doigts
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