New Year’s Eve madness is a modern-made celebration. Before the Scots popularized midnight debauchery, the New Year was soberly celebrated on the first morning of the year with respect and reflection. Then, someone went and invented public clocks, great clanking iron engines with enormous hanging bells to inform mankind of the precise passing of time. When clocks arrived in Scotland, the Scots promptly went into “party mode,” combining two peculiar Scottish customs, Hogmanay and First Footing. By the 1680s, New Year’s Eve was born. A century later Scotland’s beloved Rabbie Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne," setting it to a raucous Scottish dance tune.The Scots contributed a wee bit of Scotch whiskey and soon all of civilization ended the dignified moderation and temporal respect they had formerly displayed when ushering in the New Year. The rest is history, or so say those who claim that the Scots invented Everything.
The Case Against the New Year from the Wall Street Journal