IKNOW IT'S almost sacrilegious to say this in Philadelphia, but I think New Year's Day is the dumbest "holiday" ever.
And New Year's Eve ain't much better. I just don't get it. Never have gotten it, in fact.
New Year's Day signifies nothing. It's merely the first day of the year - just a unit of measurement, that's all. It's just a way to keep time, and a totally arbitrary one at that.
New Year's Eve is equally as dumb, if not dumber. All the hoopla about midnight on Dec. 31 is just plain bogus, simply an excuse for clubs and restaurants to make a big deal of nothing and charge you big bucks for it.
The rudest, loudest, most obnoxious people come crawling out of the woodwork on New Year's Eve. They don't get around very much (and don't go out very much) during the rest of the year. Trust me, you don't want to be around them.
I've actually tried to enjoy New Year's Eve in a public setting, but it's never really worked out.
This is a sadly artificial holiday - one that reeks of booze and lost dreams, a holiday plagued by sticky champagne stains, stale leftovers, weary Christmas decorations and nothing to look forward to but cleaning up and getting ready for the two dreariest months of the year. Why celebrate the coming of January?
This is also the time of the year when we're being barraged with appeals for self-improvement: lose weight, exercise more, get your financial affairs in order, get organized, recharge your sex life, find a mate, look younger, get educated, be kinder, get a new job, a hobby, volunteer, donate, be healthy, be useful, be helpful, be more, be better, realize your potential, be whatever you want to be . . .
Lots of these appeals are tied to our own insecurities and a vague feeling that we ought to be making resolutions.
As we grow older, we're reminded that time is not on our side. So some of us try to make resolutions and begin anew.
I don't make New Year's resolutions. Not now, not ever. The whole idea of January resolutions is laughable. During January and February, there's nothing else to do but think of the resolutions you've made and how much they're weighing on you.
Every minute seems like an eternity. These months are dark enough and heavy enough to begin with without the burden of having to keep some type of restrictive, self-imposed promise.
It doesn't work.
Surely all this darkness is what gave birth to the Mummers - a bright spot amid the gray of winter and a wonderfully indulgent Philadelphia tradition.
But don't call it the Mummers Parade because it isn't. There's no parade on Broad Street anymore. It's a long, nondescript procession of rented trucks, trailers and hangers-on trudging wearily up the street with one purpose in mind: performing for a few judges and being part of a TV show (complete with commercial breaks) in front of City Hall.
And this same drill is pretty much repeated for the other part of the Mummers spectacle inside the Convention Center. If you can't get a seat at the Convention Center or in front of City Hall, you're out of luck.
Which is just another reason that New Year's Day sort of falls flat. It's a weird sort of holiday without any underpinnings.
Even the church finds New Year's Day bewildering.
For years, Jan. 1 on the Catholic calendar was marked as the Feast of the Circumcision.
AS A GUY, I always wondered why such a day would be marked as a feast day.
But New Year's Day does mark the day of circumcision of a little Jewish boy named Jesus just eight days after his birth, according to Jewish custom.
Actually, Jan. 1 and the unkindest cut seemed to go nicely together, but the church has gone and changed Jan. 1 from the Feast of the Circumcision to the Solemnity of Mary.
So now Mary is stuck with the day that nobody else seems to want.
Lord knows, Mary can handle the burden.
But I can't.
The thought of New Year's Day followed by the truly insipid Groundhog Day and the hopelessly saccharine Valentine's Day makes me want to hibernate.
Good night! *