It has become a time-honoured tradition, as much a part of New Year’s Eve as Auld Lang Syne and fireworks: the ‘Happy New Year’ text. This timely message to far flung friends and family is now firmly rooted as one of the ways Brits see in the New Year. Here, we explore the myriad ways that text messages form part of the New Year’s tradition.
With many people being off work, combined with the huge number of brand new phones given as Christmas presents, the volume of mobile phone traffic increases dramatically over the festive period. This peaks on New Year’s Eve itself where, although there is little change in call traffic, SMS activity goes through the roof. Between midnight and 6am is usually a particularly quiet time for SMS, but that all changes on NYE, where the highest volume is recorded at 12.05am.
Network no year
Several years ago, it used to be the case that mobile networks across the UK would crash magnificently on the stroke of midnight, as well-wishers leapt to be the first to send a New Year’s text when Big Ben’s chimes rang out.
Mobile networks are well on top of this now, though, as a Vodafone spokesperson said: “We know that’s going to happen because we’ve monitored that traffic for 20 years. We’ve anticipated year-on-year growth. Using that insight, we can reduce the impact of that extra traffic on our customers on New Year’s Eve. Our network is not designed to handle 15,000 text messages per second all year round.
“It is designed to handle that during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year, though, because that’s what happens during the first three and a half hours of the year. We have that capacity in place for two weeks, rather than just doing it on 31 December, to create a stable environment. We can do that because we know what’s going to happen.”
“Will you marry me?”
Another popular tradition centres on proposals – with New Year’s Eve being cited as one of the most popular dates of the year to pop the question. Ranking at number four – behind Christmas Eve, Valentine’s Day and Christmas Day, 31 December sees almost one in ten people in the UK picking the date as their perfect proposal time, says chillisauce.co.uk. New Year’s Day is also popular, with five per cent of those asked stating 1 January as the opportune time.
With the onwards march of technology, no longer are flowers and chocolates on bended knee the most sought after way to propose; 15 per cent of women in the digital age seek a proposal via some kind of technical format. Some 17 per cent of women in the UK would prefer to be proposed to by SMS, while a further 40 per cent prefer social media. Getting engaged via text is most popular with those aged 25-34 years old, meaning it’s mainly tech-savvy youngsters who are eschewing the traditions of the past.
Resolutions for the New Year
Making resolutions for the coming year is a tradition thought to date back to the Babylonians, and around a third of Brits make them. Although only eight per cent of people succeed in keeping them, people who do make these promises are 10 per cent more likely to change their behaviour than those who don’t make any resolutions at all.
Popular resolutions usually focus on health, with 34 per cent of people intending to lose weight. For anyone who’s tried to get in a gym during the first few weeks of January, it will perhaps be unsurprising to find that 63 per cent of Brits are determined to get fitter and healthier as part of their New Year’s pact. Other favourite resolutions include drinking less alcohol (57 per cent) or changing jobs; almost one in ten seek a new career path by focusing on starting their own business.
With so many mobile phones bought as Christmas presents each year – 17.4 million were activated on 25 December 2012 – it’s likely many resolutions will be getting to grips with new technology. Jockey Nicky Henderson’s resolution for 2015 was to learn to send a text message, whilst New York Times writer Nick Bilton has vowed to stop texting while walking, after a recent collision with a fellow ‘text walker’.
Text messages can also play a key role in encouraging those close to you to stick to their resolutions. A few gentle words of encouragement to a family member can be a great help, as chief marketing officer Don Lee of Clark Hill explained to forefrontmag.com: “Using technology like Skype, Viber and text messages, we consciously commit to communication and sharing words of encouragement to help us each reach our goals.
“Each New Year, just like in my professional life, my family gathers and purposefully drafts goals and objectives for the coming year, being mindful of what we want to accomplish collectively and individually. It’s a way of keeping us committed and accountable to fulfilling our life’s goals and ambitions.”
It’s not just about sending that friendly greeting early on New Year’s Day; texting has become ingrained into our festive activities – be they proposing to the one you love or encouraging positive lifestyle choices for the coming months. It’s no wonder that the humble SMS remains a huge and important part of our New Year.