It’s the end of the year, soon to be the beginning of a new one, and we’re all getting ready to drink champagne, eat Chex mix by the handful, and stay up to half an hour past our bedtime for the midnight cheering.
Sitting there, musing to yourself, you might begin to think of all the New Years traditions you participate in.
And then, you think: why the heck do I do that thing?
I’m not going to tell you, because I don’t have a darn clue, but I will make a list of them so we can be puzzled together. So! Starting out on the list of things that I do for no apparent reason every New Years holiday, I…
5. Drink champagne
Yes, I spelled it the fake way, because I buy the fake stuff. Life is too short to care whether a bottle came from France or, in fact, a cardboard box off the bottom shelf in Krogers. I mean, come on, not like any of us know the difference anyway.
But think about it. The numbers count down, the ball hits the, uh, thingy, and we all drink something fizzy.
And, you know, I can almost get it. Champagne is pretty and bubbly and sparkly and alcoholic, which makes it very celebratory. But it could just as easily be punch that we drink, or beer, or whiskey. Why isn’t one of them, and not champagne?
Who knows. Which brings us to the next thing I do:
4. Watch a Giant Ball on TV
Why the heck have I spent the last twenty years watching a giant ball a zillion miles away slowly descend to touch whatever it is that it touches? A building? A platform? I don’t even know, which shows you how much thought I’ve put into this ritual. Yet I complete it every year.
And I’m not alone. Across the US, millions of us gather around our TVs to shout numbers at them and watch this spectacle. People fill Times Square for hours to see it, freezing their bums off with no access to bathrooms just to watch this glittery ball descend through the heavens. I can understand doing that live, I guess, but it’s the bit where I watch it on TV every year that has me puzzled. And after it does that, I…
3. Sing “Auld Lang Syne”
Ball drops. Confetti flies. We sing an old Scottish song I don’t know all the words to.
You know, in Japan, that’s the song they play to means a facility is closing. I’m not kidding. If you’re in the grocery store at 7:50pm, that song will play, and you’d better make your way to the cash register.
Yet that can’t be where the tradition comes from, because we sing it after midnight, not before. Though apparently people don’t do that in Scotland, because my Scottish Husband was absolutely baffled by why we would sing it all.
Me too, Husband, me too, along with the bit where we…
This one is just odd. We all kiss each other at New Years. That is to say, at the germy-est, most cold-ridden time of year, when someone at the party is most likely to have a nose full of snot, we touch lips.
No, because misery loves company. That’s my theory, anyway. I have a cold, and now you do to, that’ll serve you right for wishing me to be happy right now. And that brings us to the final bafflement..
1. New Years Food
In my family, this is pork and sauerkraut, with a nice big heaping helping of mashed potatoes on the side. As a child, this seemed like a peculiar punishment I had to endure every year, because I hated both pork and sauerkraut, but as an adult I’ve come to enjoy it.
Doesn’t make it less weird, though. On the first day of the year, a day which is certain to be filled with omens and superstition, why do we eat a food that makes the house smell like the plumbing isn’t working?
Yes, yes, I know it’s a German thing, my family is partially German. Other families eat corned beef and cabbage, or black-eyed peas, or various other foods. Husband’s family goes in for steak pie. It’s for luck, yada yada, I get that.
But why do we eat these particular foods? Of everything in the world, why them? That’s what puzzles me. In Japan, I got all sort of explanations for why people eat udon or soba, usually that the long noodles symbolize long life. So does the pork mean we’ll be fat as pigs? Does the smell of the sauerkraut drive away evil demons? Do the mashed potatoes hearken forth a bountiful waistline?
Heck if I know.
If you do, tell us below! Or share some of the New Years Traditions that have puzzled you. We won’t get any wiser, but hey, what’s a little confusion among friends? We’ll bring in the New Year with a little something of our own: a raised eyebrow and small shake of the head.
Happy New Year, everybody!
[All photos courtesy of Pixabay, in public domain.]