Is New Year’s Overrated?

The way I see it, New Year’s Eve is basically one big birthday party, during which we celebrate making it through another year by playing games, blowing party horns and eating junk food all night long. The only major difference is the lack of presents. If New Year’s is like a birthday party, the resolution would be the birthday wish. 

Most people living in the U.S. are at least familiar with the concept of New Year’s resolutions, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell you when the tradition first started. New Year’s resolutions may seem like a more modern practice, but surprisingly, the tradition dates all the way back to ancient Babylon almost 4,000 years ago. The custom was later revived in 17th century America, nearly one hundred years before the colonies had even established independence! I’d like to think that the practice has lasted this long for a reason. 

Since the arrival of COVID, New Year’s celebrations have been put on hold, much to the chagrin of college students and high schoolers worldwide. Even though more businesses are reopening and restrictions have loosened, we’re far from out of the woods when it comes to the virus. With the emergence of Omicron brought back people’s anxieties of shutdowns and quarantine, and while people across the country found other ways to celebrate the New Year, it feels like there was a lack of excitement compared to previous years when I watched the New York countdown to 2022. Safety protocols require crowd restrictions, and that makes sense, but it feels like we are stuck in COVID limbo. At this point, I think we all are just tired of living in this pseudo-normal state.

New Year’s brings back fond memories for me. Growing up, there were a lot of families in my neighborhood, so we became very tight-knit, and New Year’s Eve was a big deal for us. The kids ran around hyped up on sugar, blowing noise makers and causing all sorts of mayhem while the adults would drink and do a Yankee Swap. In a Yankee Swap, each person puts one gift in a pile and is assigned a random number to determine who goes first. A person can either keep the gift they have selected or choose to swap with someone else. As the night progressed, our parents got louder whilst the kids got quieter coming down from our sugar highs. We played card games, made crafts and spilled food before ending the night with a countdown to the ball drop.

In my opinion, for the most part, New Year’s resolutions were never meant to be followed religiously. At the end of the day, New Year’s is a celebration, so it makes sense that resolutions should be lighthearted and easily achievable. Bigger resolutions require contemplation and commitment. Jumping headfirst into a major lifestyle change on a whim is both unwise and irresponsible.