January 20, 2019

Why Rosh Hashanna Is the Superior New Year

“Look, New Year’s Eve sucks. You know it, I know it. It’s all anticipation, no follow-through. It’s invariably a disappointment.

You know what’s better than New Year’s Eve? Rosh Hashanah. Come with me, won’t you, on a journey of year-end musing!

Here is why I (and perhaps you) hate New Year’s Eve: You’re supposed to get dressed up all fancy (it is fun to be fancy sometimes—but it is not fun to feel pressure to be fancy) and go to a schmancy place that is invariably packed with unpleasant people. You are supposed to drink too much, which generally makes unpleasant people even more unpleasant and causes the streets of my neighborhood to run beige with vomit. There is a reason New Year’s Eve is known as Amateur Night. New Year’s Eve is expensive. Restaurants have prix fixe menus I do not want. Lyft prices skyrocket. Babysitters have cartoon-character dollar signs in their eyes.

And you’re supposed to have the Best! Time! Ever! New Year’s Eve is when everything wonderful is supposed to start! (It’s the only secular holiday that officially begins the night before, with an erev, the way every holiday on the Jewish calendar does. Yes, Christmas does, too, but that’s not a secular holiday.) New Year’s Day is about being schlumpy and hungover and lying on the couch in thick socks, or waking up with a stranger and regrets, but New Year’s Eve is all manic joy and possibility.

And it is a lie. New Year’s Eve is like the wedding that concludes classic Shakespearean comedies and entirely too many rom-coms. That’s it! Whoo! Achievement unlocked! There’s no real-world looking ahead to the challenges of, y’know, marriage. New Year’s Eve is all glorious and gleaming surface, no difficult reality. So many formative movies feature love blooming on this special, special night. There’s When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Apartment, Bundle of Joy (yeah, look how well marrying New Year’s Eve co-star Eddie Fisher wound up for Debbie Reynolds!), Waiting to Exhale, and An Affair to Remember (ruining people’s real-life New Years since 1957!).”

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