Happy Eve of New Year’s Eve
By Ed Goldman
Happy New Year’s Eve Eve. No, that’s not a stutter typo. Permit me to explain.
In my culture, the Hebrew word for the evening before our annual holidays and weekly Sabbath begin is “erev”—as in, Erev Rosh Hoshana and Erev Yom Kippur and Erev Shabbat (Sabbath).
This can prove confusing to Jew and non-Jew alike since Rosh Hoshana, Yom Kippur and Shabbat all start at sunset. But Erev Either One takes place the evening before that.
We like to stretch out our own festive days, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
To my knowledge, we don’t call December 23 Christmas Eve Eve, but I think we should be allowed to, don’t you? So welcome to December 30, which I’m going to dub henceforth and forevermore: New Year’s Eve Eve.
It always used to make me laugh when my mom would guilelessly refer to “Erev Christmas” and “Erev Easter.” They sounded like oxymorons but they were really just cross-cultural references. In her own way, she was creating a bridge for greater understanding among the world’s people(s). I’d nominate her for a posthumous Nobel Peace prize but I have a slight headache.
To get back: Surely you’ve noticed and probably objected to the tendency to stretch out certain holidays, especially if they contain a festive element—by which I mean, Halloween decorations going up and costume parties being held right after Labor Day, and Christmas ads and in-store music beginning before Thanksgiving.
But don’t blame Corporate America for all of this. Remember Mitt Romney famously saying at the 2011 Iowa State Fair, “Corporations are people, my friend.” (In 1973, Charlton Heston also famously declaimed, “Soylent Green is people!” Maybe we’ll explore that when my headache goes away.)
My point is that we, as people, like to stretch out our own festive days, such as birthdays and anniversaries. For example, I have some friends who get taken to lunch every day of their birth-week—the same friends who first say they’d like to ignore the passage of another year but then, as the day approaches, find themselves announcing its imminence to everyone within their orbit or sound of their voice:
“Yeah, we could have that meeting on Tuesday, but— (looks at calendar)— Hey! Whadda y’ know? That’s just 19 days before my birthday! Geez, I didn’t even remember that. I usually like to ignore my birthday.” Nineteen days! These are the same people who also count back days from tragedies as though they’d just dodged a bullet: “When I think of how close I came to booking a seat on an airplane that was also going up into the sky the day that other one crashed, lemme tell ya, I pour myself a stiff one and say my prayers.”
Which I plan to do shortly to celebrate New Year’s Eve Eve. I’ll be back Friday, January 3. Hope to see you next year.