(unless you’re in Australia, in which case it’s already next year, the impatient time-travellers)
First off, I’d like to say well done for surviving another year on this planet, which is looking increasingly like Caprica from season one of Battlestar Galactica, with its ruined buildings, individuals struggling to survive and ominous orange hue about the place.
But beyond that congratulations, New Years really irritates me (as you may be surprised to learn if you’ve read this blog for any length of time), firstly because of its placement in the year.
Having a New Years party at the start of a year may seem like it makes sense, but it really doesn’t; coming just after Christmas, everyone’s still a little fat, and very skint, leaving any sort of party little more than a sad amalgamation of people in tight clothes, turkey leftovers served with little cocktail sticks, and loads of cheap booze that was untouched for Christmas itself. How very entertaining.
Then throw in our idiotic traditions, such as New Years resolutions, which suggest that self-improvement is derived from sticking rigidly to a vague and impulsive decision for 365 days, rather than allowing for the more flexible and natural growth that leads to noticeable self-improvement, and you’ll see the incredibly suckitude of New Years parties.
This suckitude is compounded by the, now traditional, pointlessness of most human celebrations; there’s no need for a party at the end of December, apart from the irrelevant fact that homework will now be headed with ‘/14’ at the end of it, and not ‘/13’.
And don’t tell me that we’ve completed an orbit of the Sun, so we need to party – who the Hell cares? Although there will be differences in climate, which we could celebrate as an emergence from winter into summer (apart form the fact that winter continues for about two months after the new year), these differences have been largely eradicated by human development, which is probably a good thing; we don’t need to party in preparation for incoming good harvests and an improvement in the quality of our lives, because we can import strawberries and oranges from anywhere on Earth if we want to.
New Years just seems like another excuse to have a party and, while other celebrations such as Christmas and Easter have religious origins, and so can be more understandable as religion is still a strong force in today’s society, initial midwinter celebrations were grounded in practical purpose: the Irish Imbolc festival, celebrated around the first of February, was characterised by a lighting of candles, which was probably initially done to provide basic warmth; this practice was then imposed upon religious figures such as Brighid, and the candles came to be a representative of coming light and warmth.
The fact that humans have developed things such as central heating means there is no practical need for the Imbloc festival, and so it disappears, taking its religious ‘justification’ with it; similarly in the developed world, we don’t need a festival at New Years to usher in an age of improved harvests and agricultural prosperity, so such celebrations should really be dying out.
I suppose we just love our parties though; any excuse to eat a lot and hang out with people, and we’ll take it because even I can see the social benefits of such a shindig; I like eating, and hanging out with people, and can understand that others like it too.
However, I feel these celebrations shouldn’t be taken for granted; that is, they have no inherent reason to exist in our society any more, so don’t feel entitled to a great New Years party, or even a party full stop. Such celebrations are now a superficial addition to, not a component of, our calendars, so shut up and take your cold turkey and cheap wine, because if we keep getting annoyed at New Years parties, they might just bugger off.