A spirit haunts the year’s last hours, wrote Lord Tennyson referring to the joyous pathos of the last day of the year, call it what you will. Vispera de Año Nuevo as in Mexico, Sint Sylvester Vooravond or Oudjaar in Belgium, la Saint-Sylvestre in France, Szilveszter in Hungary, Oíche Chinn Bliana in Ireland, Vigilia di Capodanno in Italy, Oudejaarsavond in the Netherlands, Hogmany in Scotland, Bisperas ng Bagong Taon in the Philippines. By and large, there’s a startling similarity to the New Year’s Eve ritual everywhere in the world, despite such decided oddities as the Italian custom of wearing red underwear to mark the passing of the old year and the Surinamese proclivity to red firecracker ribbons.
The theme is merriment – fun, food, frolicking with friends and family. Walter Scott put it best. “Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer.”
And then, it stops, and we all go back to work. With many new year resolutions (all the better to break) and new determination to work and play better. As the Bard said, if all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work.