New Year's is my favorite holiday of all. There are a lot of reasons for it, but mainly, I've never had a bad New Year's Eve and I've had a lot of good ones. This is so far off topic, but it's my blog, I've paid the dues, so I'll walk you through why NYE/NYD is my favorite holiday.
The main trait of New Years is that it is an optimistic holiday. We believe that, because the calendar flips, we can become better people. We make resolutions, that, once you get far enough along in life, you realize, are arbitrary and unlikely to stick (lots of reasons, but mostly poor planning). But the sincere optimism of NYE/NYD touches me as a spirit that we should have all year.
Other holidays ask us to remember or to think of why we should be thankful, but only NYE/NYD asks us to look back on the past and appreciate the good and the bad. We have top ten lists, top hundred lists, and lists of people who died. We take a second moment to appreciate everyone who is gone and to look back and say this thing happened and was good or scuked badly. I love the perspective that you get from looking back from an arbitrary end point and seeing what happened in a neutral light that allows both positive celebration and negative critique.
I know some of you are too young to drink. I'll tell you a bit about what sparkling wine actually means, if not what it's actually like. Champagne (and most sparkling wine) is a real pain to make. Requires a lot of hands on work (or machine work now), so, it's been reserved for celebrations. You drink champagne when you've won something, like a championship or a big contract at work. You drink it when you have something to celebrate, like a wedding or the birth of a child. You drink it when you are being fancy, as it pairs well with rich foods due to a solid acid content and the carbonation. It can be sweet or dry, or many places in between. Oh, I forgot, we drink it for New Years. Because it's a celebration and a victory. Another year, still kicking.
Freedom of Choice
Most holidays come with a suggested group of people. Thanksgiving and Christmas are family holidays. Valentine's, you spend with your significant other. Mother's, with your mom and Father's with your pop. NYE, you spend with whoever you want. No stigma attached if you want to go out with friends. No stigma if you want to stay in with your family. No odd looks if you just want to take your wife out to a fancy dinner.
There's another aspect to Freedom of Choice. There are very few traditions to NYE. Resolution (and you are free to choose what you probably will do through mid-January), Auld Lang Syne, champagne, noisemakers. All put together, that's 5 minutes of tradition. The rest of the night is yours. And you can do whatever you want. Watch TV. Go to a cocktail party. Restaurant. First Night events. Costume party. Whatever. There is no wrong answer for NYE.
Best Aspects of Every Other Holiday
Pick your favorite holiday. Pick the single best aspect to it. Tell me it doesn't fit into NYE. We have costumes and crazy parties like Halloween, drinking from St. Pats, reflection like Veterans and Memorial (only wider scope), rich food like Thanksgiving, tinsel and snow, like Christmas (without the excess), and fireworks like Independance Day. That's the US set of holidays, essentially.
A Personal Reflection
I first kissed the woman who would become my wife on New Year's Eve. That gives me some bias, but I am reminded every NYE of that odd first date, trumping around Forest Park in St. Louis, attempting to avoid my future-in-laws, in the bitter cold (one very negative aspect to NYE, especially in Chicago), having recently broken off a 4+ year relationship.
Things have only gotten largely better for me since NYE 2003-4. So, looking forward to more good things in the future. I wish you all the happiest of New Years.