The Trouble With Tradition – Midnight Onset Of New Year
DrHGuy has learned the hard way that off the shelf New Year’s Eve customs are a poor fit for his metaphysique.
An especially problematic issue has been the midnight hoopla welcoming the incoming year. While the occasional well-performed hoopla can induce a quite enjoyable mental state and can even cascade into delightful physical activities, a cost-benefit analysis of staying awake until midnight, well past DrHGuy’s bedtime, for no other reason than to raise a ruckus1 in acknowledgment that time has indeed progressed some infinitely small increment beyond the last instance of the year being completed discloses an unacceptably low return on investment.
DrHGuy is not, however, one to cavalierly dismiss or disregard altogether those cultural traditions that symbolically bind us together. Consequently, his goal is revision rather than renunciation of these customs.
Watching the televised Times Square New Year’s celebration offered the insight that time zones, while useful, are an arbitrary fabrication. That there are 24 time zones instead of 48 or 12 or 19 is itself arbitrary. Further, while time zones are conceptually constructed from wedges of the Earth bordered by meridians each 15° of longitude apart, each one hour different from its neighboring wedges, “political and geographical practicalities can result in irregularly-shaped zones that follow political boundaries or that change their time seasonally (as with daylight saving time), as well as being subject to occasional redefinition as political conditions change”2 – i.e., they are arbitrary.
And arbitrary standards offer one considerable slack for adaptation. The determination of the appropriate hour for the first libation of the day, for example, is rendered more flexible and thus less difficult when one realizes that, as the country-western song points out, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
It’s Midnight Somewhere
Liberate Your New Year’s Celebration From Time Zone Tyranny
Analogously, DrHGuy’s original revelation was that residing in the Midwest did not preclude his saluting the onset of the New Year along with the denizens of the Big Apple and the rest of the East Coast, which left ample post-hoopla time to tuck himself alongside, with luck, a female celebrant into bed before those locals chauvinistically attached to Central Standard Time bestirred themselves into applauding the inevitable passage of midnight.
Yet, even 11 PM (the CST correspondent of the East Coast’s midnight) became onerous,3 especially when the party was limited to DrHGuy and Da Boyz. And, New York’s loud, self-congratulatory style did grate a bit.
Salvation arrived when DrHGuy’s research revealed that Newfoundland, the Canadian province called – or so claim its governmental boosters — “the Far East of the Western World” – is, in one of those weird coincidences, covered by the Newfoundland Time Zone, which precedes the Central Time Zone by 2.5 (yep, it’s 2.5 hours rather than 2 hours or 3 hours – those wacky Canucks) and the Eastern Time Zone by 1.5 hours.
So, beginning in 2006, DrHGuy’s confidence that he could party hearty at 9:30 PM (local time) and still be in bed at a civilized 10:15 resulted in his household New Year’s ceremony climaxing at that time. Besides, one can imagine what party beasts those Newfies can be.4
Thus it is that DrHGuy has now embraced his inner-Newfie and now gratefully adopts, for a few seconds every year, the Newfoundland Time Zone.
Note: Originally posted Dec 27, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- DrHGuy does specifically endorse the celebratory tradition of kissing ones lover as one year finishes and another begins. Of course, DrHGuy endorses kissing ones (liberally defined) lover as part of any celebration – or in preparation for a celebration, after a celebration, between celebrations, … . Postponing a kiss until midnight, however, seems a poor bargain. [↩]
- Wikipedia [↩]
- DrHGuy is an “early to bed, early to rise” sort of fellow [↩]
- The folks in what is officially the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, have noted that their “unique time zone,” being 3.5 hours off Greenwich Mean Time, results in the New Year arriving on their shores before any other place in North America. It appears that the typical New Year’s Eve celebration in Newfoundland includes, beyond the ubiquitous fireworks and countdown to the New Year, midnight dogsled races and Celtic music concerts. [↩]