A year ago today, I was sick. Really sick. I spent the night watching Doctor Who on the couch with my mother, who was feeling even worse than I was. The highlight of the evening was when drove to pick up a pizza we had ordered, shivering under multiple blankets in the car, because we were too feverishly delirious to remember that delivery was an option. It wasn’t the worst New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had.
Besides the whims of the Gregorian calendar, is there any good reason for our rabid fixation on December 31, one day out of 365? In 2013, I had a really great April 12. The entire month of June was solid. I also have fond memories of mid-September. Doesn’t that count for anything? Yes, tomorrow will see us, still hungover, scribbling the wrong date on our checks, but tonight represents only 0.27 percent of the year. The actual hours spent partying on New Year’s Eve — say, between 9 p.m. and midnight — are 0.03 percent of 8,760 total in 2013. On the scale of one day, that would represent a whopping 26 seconds. And it’s not much of a 26 seconds, either.
Consider that the holiday is best embodied in the person of Ryan Seacrest, human carcinogen, and the place of Times Square, the single most depressing location on Earth that is neither a prison nor underground torture facility. New Year’s Eve may seem lower-key than most holidays (there aren’t any familial or gift-giving expectations to speak of), but it’s an insidiously high-pressure, low-payoff situation. The best-case scenario? A fun night out with your friends: just like you might’ve had on literally any other day of the year. The worst-case scenario? Crushing disappointment at your failure to orchestrate the greatest party experience of all time and/or satisfactorily document it on Instagram.
With the exception of Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is arguably the most romance-oriented holiday widely celebrated in the United States. If you’re single, you readily subject yourself to terrible conditions — late hours, extreme cold, expensive booze, awful music — with the implicit goal of finding someone to kiss at midnight. If you’re in a relationship, the outlook isn’t much better. Last year, my attempts to plan a mystical unicorn of an event that would pleasantly accommodate my boyfriend, myself, and our distinct groups of friends proved to be a total wash. Flu shot be damned, my immune system gave out completely.
If you find yourself shelling out hundreds of dollars for the privilege of being locked into a fire hazard tonight, don’t let festive FOMO get you down. Here are 10 empirically superior holidays for you to look forward to in 2014.
Lunar New Year (January 31)
By comparison, this holiday makes the Western New Year’s Eve look like Arbor Day (and may I add, fuck Arbor Day). This centuries-old celebration, based on the lunisolar calendar, typically involves paper lanterns, firecrackers, family reunions and parades, not to mention shiny red envelopes stuffed with cash.
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
You want a drunk holiday? You’ve come to the right place. Celebrate the two greatest libations known to humankind (Guinness and frozen margaritas), as well as America’s inexplicable fondness for appropriating holidays and making a much bigger deal of them than is the case in their actual countries of origin. Also, light to moderate racism?
Memorial Day (May 26) and Labor Day (September 1)
The sweet three-day weekends of summer. Beer, grilled meats, softball, pretending to play softball while really just gorging on beer and grilled meats.
Halloween (October 31)
If you’re dead set on sloppily face-smushing with a stranger at midnight, he or she might as well be slathered in disconcertingly accurate head-to-toe zombie makeup.
Thanksgiving (November 27)
Unequivocally, the greatest holiday ever to holiday. Eat food. Eat all of the food you can. For once, the person who consumes the most isn’t a social pariah, but the undisputed winner of Thanksgiving, so go HAM on that turkey.
Christmas (December 25)
Heartfelt gifts. Eggnog. Loving family. Eggnog with booze in it. The magical, wide-eyed wonderment of childhood. Eggnog with so, so much booze in it.
IHOP Free Pancake Day (February 28) and 7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day (July 11)
Surely no explanation is needed.