Baby New Year got an early start.
When I initially sat down to write this post, I was going to offer up some personal reflections from 2013, along with my hopes and desires for the coming new year. Because that's what you do at the end of the year. The problem is, it's late, and I'm tired. And sober. (Don't act so fucking shocked.) Plus, I just spent the last hour or so looking at New Year's traditions from around the world, and I have to share them, because they are funny and weird and awesome. I intend to practice every single one of these traditions by January 1st, because I am a person who believes in covering his bases. And by "covering his bases" I mean "covering his ass." Let's start with the good ol' USA:
The tradition of eating black-eyed peas at the new year originated in the South around the time of the Civil War, which very likely explains why they lost. It's super hard to run around and shoot a musket when you're so gassy. Nowadays eating black-eyed peas is supposed to bring luck, though probably not the kind that gets you laid on New Year's Day, Mister Farty McSkidmarks.
Ah, the Motherland. Tradition holds in Ireland that banging loaves of bread against the walls of your home will drive out evil spirits for the new year. This custom tells you two immediate things about my people: 1) Never eat Irish bread, because that shit is hard enough to bang against a wall and scare demons; and 2) Every drunk Irishman joke you ever heard is probably true.
I love Spain. Truly. They have great soccer and possibly the most awesome food on the planet. They also have a ridiculous custom whereby on New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, everyone has twelve grapes in their hand. When the bells toll, the idea is to eat all twelve grapes before the bells finish, ensuring good luck for the coming twelve months. Which is completely ass-backward, when the same feat could be accomplished with a glass of wine, which Spain has in abundance, WHICH IS MADE FROM GRAPES, Spaniards. For God's sake, think it through.
In Scotland, they parade through the streets on New Year's Eve, swinging enormous balls of fire over their heads. Probably while drunk. So if you're a guy and you're holding your little sparkler in the driveway tonight, remember something very important. You are a giant pussy.
It's always important to start the new year off with a clean slate. In certain villages in Peru, they accomplish this on New Year's Day by having a "punch up." Basically, anybody with a grievance against anybody else calls them out, and while bands play and children run around with streamers, they take turns beating the shit out of each other. This is also a tradition in Ireland, except over there it's called "Most Nights at the Pub."
Finally, in Thailand the new year is celebrated with the Songkran Water festival. The dousing of someone with water is supposed to be a blessing for the coming year. I don't know if that works, but what I do know is that Thailand has managed to turn a New Year's tradition into the biggest wet t-shirt contest in the history of the world. Well played, Thailand.
Whatever traditions you have, I hope 2014 is good to you. If you need me, I'll be right here, making shit up. Somebody hand me a loaf of bread. I got some demons to scare.
Happy New Year.