Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This holiday needs a rodent!

What you are reading now is an edited version of my orginal post under this title. Now, editing the crap out of posts after you publish them is probably frowned upon in blogging circles. But as I've said before, I also pee sitting down, so your rules mean nothing to me. Most of the original post survives, but I've deleted a confusing (and in retrospect apparently delusional) discussion about what I claimed was an early-1900's New Year's Eve tradition in northern Ontario that involved catching river otters in festive sacks and then releasing them into a champagne-filled bathtub at the stroke of midnight. If you caught that original post, I'm sorry. Your grandpa from Timmins is telling you the truth. And I'm sorry for calling him a senile old otter-dumper. Anyway, we'll pick it up from there...

I've never been big on New Year's Eve. Good excuse to get wasted, yes, but we have plenty of those (stags, baby showers, Grandma's 92nd birthday) . And beyond the booze, New Year's Eve doesn't have much else to offer.

Take this nonsense of counting down to midnight. In the absence of a well-timed asteroid strike, it's bound to be anti-climactic. (Me most years: "Three... Two... One... Happy New Year! ...Um, so you wanna go write some cheques?") Really, the only possible value in the counting out those last 10 seconds backwards is as practice for the roadside sobriety test that is likely to follow a few hours later. Ditto those little party favour noisemakers and their uncanny resemblance to a handheld breathalyzer.

Then there's the New Year's kiss. Nice enough, but if it's in public, it almost never involves tongue.

And and don't even get me started on that often mumbled but rarely understood ditty: "Auld Lang Syne". Should old aquaintence be forgot? If they sing that stupid song, yes they should!

And the whole concept of the "New Year" is arbitrary and meaningless anyway. In and of itself, January 1 is sweet frick all, astronomically speaking. It doesn't mark the longest day. Or the shortest day. In Canada, it may be the day of the year that you will get the longest stares if you wear shorts, but that is a socio-meterological coincidence. All that happens on January 1 is that the Earth completes its first full revolution around the Sun since, well, last January 1. Long ago, January 1 was chosen as the Date to Measure These Things By due to a series of complicated political and religious factors. And something to do with the timing of Julius Ceasar's bowel movements.

Groundhog Day, on the other hand, I can get behind. It means something: February 2 is the mid-point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In pagan religious traditions, this is a "cross-quarter" day of heightened connectedness to the spiritual world.

That, and there is a rodent involved. If you think about it, pretty much any occasion is more fun when a rodent shows up (stags, baby showers, Grandma's 92nd birthday). The entire Disney empire is premised on this assumption, so it must be true.

And that's why next month I'll be having a Groundhog Day's Eve party. There will there be drinking. Bevy of choice: rootbeer and Southern Comfort. And a drinking game played while watching (what else?) Groundhog Day - one shot for each time Bill Murray's character dies, two for each time they play "I Got You Babe" and three for each scene in which Andy McDowell isn't adorable. (Okay, I threw that in there just for fun. She's never not adorable in this movie.)

At midnight there is no countdown. Instead, somebody says "hey, it's midnight". At this point, in lieu of a public peck, the host turns the lights out for 1 minute (representing the darkness of a groundhog's den), during which time partygoers are encouraged to grope their dates heartily.

Lights back on, the festivities conclude with the making of "shadow/no shadow" wagers and the exchange of stuffed groundhogs. (In recognition of Canada's multicultural makeup, celebrants born in non-groundhog countries may bring any non-rat rodent native to their homeland.)

Oh, and no Ryan Seacrest. Invitations to follow.


At July 10, 2006 3:33 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!
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