Monday, January 3, 2011

2011...To the Best Year Yet!

Happy 2011! Can you believe it's 2011? Does it really seem like twelve years ago that we were partying like it was 1999? Yep. And that means Prince must be a card-carrying member of the AARP by now (I'm not going to consider what this means for me).
New Year's Eve, NYC, 1928.

New Year's Eve, Hollywood, CA, 1950s.

New Year's Eve, Washington, D.C., 1940

Seriously though, I love New Years. It's right up there in the Holiday Hierarchy for me. I associate New Years with friends, champagne, dancing, and my once-per-year opportunity to wear sequins and all manner of gaudiness without drawing disgusted stares from Bostonians who still seem to prefer (and actually do a pretty admirable job "rocking," as my friend Dustin says) sensible Puritan garb such as tweed blazers and cabled wool turtlenecks the other 364 nights of the year.

But mostly I love the incredible sense of hope, optimism, and new beginnings that New Year's annually bestows upon the world. No matter how bad the previous year, we get a universal clean slate.

When I look through these faded photos of New Years past, it strikes me that none of the subjects could have known what the coming years might bring. One of the pictures depicts the December 31st prior to the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. Another shows London revelers enjoying a festive and bright dinner shortly before the city went dark during the war. Still, I imagine that most of the subjects of these photographs muddled through the darker times, and on a subsequent New Years Eve, once again felt a renewed sense of hope and possibility. It's nice to know that, come what may, we get a fresh opportunity each and every year to put the past behind us and to try anew. 

New Year's Eve. 1957

New Year's Eve. Ogunquit, ME. 1938
I guess this is why there are so many ideas floating around the globe on how to court luck, happiness, and fortune in the New Year. Just in case there's any truth to some (or all) of these old wives' tales, I usually attempt to incorporate as many as possible into my New Year's routine.

Problem is, I've compiled quite a few good luck tidbits over the years. But since this is my good fortune for the next twelve months we're talking about here, I try my darndest to optimize what the coming year will bring. I eat lentils (Italy), black-eyed peas (American South), donuts (Netherlands), cabbage (Russia), and pork (probably countries without large kosher populations) on New Year's Eve. I wear red (China/Spain) and yellow undergarments (Venezuela/ Mexico), with white clothing (Brazil) on New Year's Day (one must exercise caution here, so as not to alarm non-superstitious passersby with loud unmentionables showing through too-translucent whites...). And please don't visit too early on the January 1st unless you're the tall, dark-haired man that should be the first person to enter the house in the New Year (other than the residents, I assume).

But try as I might, is there really any controlling what the coming year will bring?

New Year's Eve, NYC, 1932.
New Year's Eve. Paris, France. 1961
While I was driving on Christmas Eve to pick up some catering for our party, I heard an NPR broadcast on the history behind several classic holiday songs. Apparently, Judy Garland's famous Christmas song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," became popular not from Meet Me in St. Louis, the movie for which the piece was written, but several years later, when Garland brought many soldiers to tears during her live performance of the song at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II. Soldiers and their families hoped Garland's words, "let your heart be light / next year all our troubles will be out of sight" would ring true.  

When I SoundHounded a catchy song playing just before midnight this New Year's Eve, I though it was fitting that the song (a housey, Mobyesque piece by Devotchka) was called "How it Ends." Who knows what 2011 has in store for us, or where we will be next December 31st...But here's hoping that it will be the best year yet!  May peace and happiness be yours in the coming year...
JG0155-001, Sasha /Hulton Archive
New Year's Eve, London, 1938

New Year's Eve, NYC, year unknown.

New Year's Eve, 1957. 

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