New Year’s Eve... what a yawn

A Christmas Day view of chilly dawn over the Essex countryside. Picture: LJM

A Christmas Day view of chilly dawn over the Essex countryside. Picture: LJM - Credit: Archant

No enthusiasm for seeing in the new year? Me neither.

If I were even a little bit Scottish, I might enjoy New Year’s Eve. As it is, Auld Lang Syne, sung in a circle of six people, in front of the telly as Big Ben chimes in the new year, is deeply embarrassing to this particular Sassenach.

What are you actually supposed to do?

I’ve tried to enjoy it but it just doesn’t work for me. Even when, as a young woman, I might have been excited by the prospect of new opportunities in the new year, I wasn’t. Is it because I’m an East Anglian and slow to excite? Maybe, while those living north of the border can summon up a fever of anticipation at the end of a year, those of an East Anglian persuasion are slow burners and the thrill doesn’t hit them until around June. And June is a much better month to celebrate outdoors.

But after all these years of feeling inadequate to the challenge of enjoying New Year’s Eve, I find I am not the only person in the world that finds it a struggle to know what to do in order to enjoy the occasion.

In the Philippines, they use as many round things as possible to represent coins and wealth such as wearing clothes with circular patterns or polka dots. I’m thinking pizza and hula hoops aren’t a bad way to see out a year.

In Denmark, I read, ( have checked so I can confirm the website isn’t pulling a fast one) people save up plates and then on the last day of the year, they hurl them at the front doors of friends and family. Having had my front door repainted, this year, I would take a dim view of this, however affectionate the intention.

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My absolute favourite is the Spanish tradition of putting one grape in your mouth for each of the 12 chimes of midnight. If you succeed in this endeavour then good luck is yours for the year ahead. A dozen grapes ? that’s got to be huge and economical fun, although top spot goes to South American countries such as Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil, where it’s all in the pants. They wear red ones for love, yellow for wealth and success, white ones for peace.

The underwear fixation continues in Bolivia where people wait until midnight to change into lucky yellow pants. Maybe this is where I’ve been going wrong - I have no yellow knickers. Yet.

In Scotland, a tradition that has trickled down to England is “first footing” whereby the first person to enter the household in the new year brings good fortune... always assuming it’s male, dark-haired and bearing various gifts that include a lump of coal and a coin.

In these days of equality, I imagine a female brunette (I used to be one before I turned auburn) is acceptable or even preferable.

Another feature of new year is horoscopes. I’m Aquarius and, depending on what planet is in Uranus, occasionally Pisces. I don’t know what 2019 has in store for me but I can hazard a guess, I will at some point face a dilemma at work but this should resolve itself when I find there is no dilemma. Meanwhile there will be a new love interest in my life...

Noooooo! If I had yellow knickers, I would be ripping them off now. I don’t want to get that lucky.

• Christmas morning with the grandsons dawned icy and clear with a view over the Essex countryside so different from my urban landscape. A ribbon of mist hovered under the trees and the fields were frosted white. With a stab of anxiety, I realised there was no corner shop for emergencies. How would we survive a whole 24 hours?

On Christmas Eve, we had walked to the village church and lustily sung carols... except for baby Herbie, who gurgled and George, who largely sat them out, and Wil who just stood there, looking angelic (little did they know...).

By mid-afternoon on the 25th, the sitting room resembled a scale model of Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs everywhere. I was tempted to take an afternoon nap but Herbie, nine months, decided this wasn’t an option. The jolly little elf gurgled with delight and attempted to eat any uncollected fragments of wrapping paper, which were regularly reclaimed from his mouth during the day. George sat at his desk and assembled a Lego Pteradactyl empire while I took Wil outside so that he could whizz around on the scooter Father Christmas brought him. I love Christmas in a way I shall never love New Year’s Eve.

• Judy, in Ipswich, noted my tip, last week, that lametta would be making a big comeback and wrote: “We were very amused as we decided to buy some this year for our Christmas tree. We found a store which was selling it, three packs for the price of two. My husband decided we would need at least two packs so we bought the three, not realising how much was in each pack. We have now calculated we have enough for our tree for the next 29 years so it definitely will be making a comeback in our house.”

Ah, but when the great lametta shortage strikes, Judy, you will be queen of Christmas.

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