Raise a Glass to Baby New Year & Its Fascinating Origin Story

From Ancient Greece to the early aughts, Baby New Year has been around the block.

Updated November 24, 2023
Happy smiling family with newborn baby with sparklers

Grab your top hats and pacifiers because Baby New Year is on the way. Much like the coveted leap year birthday and dreaded Christmas one, being born on New Year's comes with its own baggage. But where did the New Year's Baby tradition even start? Well, we’re here to help you find out.

Baby New Year Through the Ages

It might be hard to believe, but the symbolism of Baby New Year stretches back to antiquity and has several fun pitstops along the way.

The Ancient Birth of Baby New Year

The earliest references to a New Year Baby date back to Ancient Greece around 600 B.C.E. According to mythology, the Greek god of wine and partying, Dionysus, was reborn on New Year’s every year to embody the spirit of fertility. In honor of this, the Greeks would parade a newborn baby around the town in a basket.

If Rafiki can hold a newly born Simba over a cavernous ledge, then the Ancient Greeks can have their baby parade if they want to.

The American New Year’s Baby is Born

When you think of The Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell probably comes to mind. But queer illustrator J.C. Leyendecker brought its covers to life long before Rockwell stepped up to the plate. You have him to thank for the omnipresent top-hatted New Year’s baby.

Starting in 1907 and ending in 1943, The Saturday Evening Post’s final edition of the year would feature an illustrated baby on the cover. Because of how widespread and voraciously read the magazine was, its tradition cemented the idea of the New Year’s Baby in American pop culture. And for decades afterward, there were print ads and magazines that put their own spin on Baby New Year. 

The New year baby of 1950 comes riding in
Fast Fact

According to The Saturday Evening Post, Leyendecker’s top hat baby that featured on the 1920 cover is a reference to Mr. Dry, a Prohibition-era cartoon.

Where Does Father Time Come In?

Ah, Father Time is the perfect mythological foil to Baby New Year. He’s the ending of one cycle while Baby New Year represents the beginning of a new one. In some iterations, Father Time passes the torch to Baby New Year on January 1st.

1930s new year toddler baby girl bidding goodbye to father time

Cut to December 31st, and the rapidly aged Baby New Year is the new Father Time. These two are caught in an endless cycle of death and regeneration, which is why they're often depicted alongside each other.

Need to Know

One of the most famous representations of Father Time and Baby New Year comes from Leyendecker's 1911 cover for The Saturday Evening Post. The elderly Father Time leans on his massive scythe and crouches over Baby New Year.

Let's Break New Year’s Baby Myths

Growing up in the 2000s, this sentimental New Year’s baby belief was a thing of the past. Rather, people would gossip over what Oprah-worthy lifetime supply or monetary gift the babies would get. While individual towns, hospitals, and businesses sometimes do give the first baby born on New Year's Day a special gift or experience, it’s not a mandatory thing. So, if you were trying to time your due date around New Year’s for the free goodies, we hate to burst your bubble.

Iconic People Born on New Year’s Day

While you were out partying and kissing your way through the ball drop, these famous (and infamous) individuals were being born:

  • Sir Ben Kingsley
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins
  • Besty Ross
  • Frank Langella
  • Paul Revere
  • Carole Landis
  • Grandmaster Flash
  • Bebe Neuwirth
Need to Know

If you want to see another iconic New Year's Baby, look no further than Happy the New Year's Baby who has delightfully big ears and is at the center of 1976's Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.

Raise a Glass to Baby New Year

Baby New Year is a storied tradition that we still hold some reverence for today. So, when you're watching the countdown this year, take a moment to raise your glass in a toast to all those New Year’s babies ringing it in for the very first time.

Raise a Glass to Baby New Year & Its Fascinating Origin Story