The strange fascination with New Year’s Eve celebrations

When I was young, we would as a family go to church at 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve. The minister Rev. Arnold Cooper had an excellent sense of timing and the service would reach a climax right at midnight and he would pause while fireworks went off all over town and then briefly resume to give us an uplifting final blessing and send us on our way. During that pause, my father would slip a large denomination currency note into my hand, a tradition that I continued with my own children until they grew up and moved away. Then all the parishioners would mingle outside for awhile wishing each other all the best for the coming year. (This was Sri Lanka so it was warm and we could hang out outside indefinitely.) The family would then go home and eat and drink something before going to bed. It was low-key but nice.

I never did get into the New Year’s Eve big party scene, whether at public venues or in private homes. On occasion friends would invite us to such parties and we would go but to me the whole business of waiting for the ball to drop always seemed a little strained and artificial. The chief benefit is that at such times one thinks about and greets friends, especially those who are far away, something that should be done more frequently.

This cartoon pretty much captures my view.

But that does not prevent me from wishing all the readers of this blog all the best for 2019.

I am going to bed now. Let me know how the new year turns out.


  1. Johnny Vector says

    We watched the Sydney celebration on YouTube livestream. Conveniently early in the day for us!. And it had Tim Minchin and Ben Folds and quite an impressive fireworks display. We haven’t bothered to stay up to midnight in many years.

    Happy New Year!

  2. says

    Out here in rural Pennsylvania, they really do fire guns in the air. It’s big out here and I don’t think anyone has ever had their number come up, but that sure would be a way of saying “Happy New Year!” Pzzzzz!! “Oh look someone shot Grandma!”

  3. kestrel says

    I was sorry to learn that firing guns in the air on New Year’s Eve is a thing in many places. I thought that was just a Southwest thing. Every year there is some story here about a bullet coming down through someone’s roof, narrowly missing people. I’m sure people have been hit, though. When I first moved here I could hardly believe it when newscasters were warning people not to fire guns in the air. I thought, who would be stupid enough to do that? Apparently a lot of people, because that night at midnight the fusillade started.

    So happy new year, and please don’t fire guns in the air. Having to repair bullet holes in your roof is not a good way to start the new year.

  4. lanir says

    I slept through the last few hours of 2018 and woke up around 00:40 local time. A few minutes later someone set off fireworks nearby while my cat was drinking and scared her into hiding under the bed. So… that and having to remember to write dates as xx/xx/19 is about all it means to me.

    New Years is all numerology. It’s picking an arbitrary spot on an oval orbit and saying this is clearly the beginning/ending for no apparent reason. I can’t even begin to sort out what the logic is behind it being marked off at midnight local time everywhere. If you were really tracking the orbit it would be a time in UTC and it would shift by about 6 hours every year.

  5. mnb0 says

    The way I celebrate the new year is waiting until the noise of the fireworks is over so that I can go to bed. But why listen to me? I’ve never send a christmas card either and am happy never receiving one.
    Still all the best for 2019.

  6. lochaber says

    I just read about a young girl getting struck with a round from “celebratory” gunfire over here in the Bay Area last night.


    is there any chance of convincing people to at least use blanks if they are going to do this? or will that lead to more casualties as idiot people who have no business around firearms assume they are “safe”.
    or do they just not want to manually reload for every round?

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