Worst Holiday Ever

Conor Friedersdorf makes the case that New Year’s Eve is our worst holiday:

New Year’s Eve is the worst holiday.

On Christmas gifts are exchanged, carols sung, and peace and goodwill extended toward all humankind. Done right, Thanksgiving includes a Turducken, traditional sides, and pie. The 4th of July ends with choreographed bursts of pyrotechnic delight exploding in the warm summer sky. Whereas here in America, New Year’s Eve is a too expensive exercise in affected frenzy and anti-climax. How fitting that the Y2K scare fizzled on the biggest New Year’s Eve of our lives, a night that Prince had been singing about for 17 years. Did your night live up to the hype?

On December 31, mediocre restaurants throughout America string absurd velvet ropes outside their doors, inflate black and white balloons as decoration, and charge three times the usual price for the same old fare plus bad champagne. Is it any wonder that our elders, as they grow older and wiser, opt to stay home and turn in before midnight? America’s most iconic New Year’s Eve celebration, the one that captures the attention of the whole country, has massive crowds gathering in New York City’s most garish neighborhood, where they watch a large ball drop as C-list celebrities narrate on TV. The typical NYC dweller can’t be lured to Times Square for dinner on an ordinary evening, so I can’t imagine how pre-New Year’s conversations go for those who attend. “Would you like to stand out in the freezing cold for hours with no place to sit or use the bathroom and drunks pressed against you on all sides?”

Even more bizarre is the fact that Californians watch a tape-delayed rebroadcast of the spectacle as the clock strikes midnight on the West Coast, with whole parties pausing to gather around the television. “Hey, quiet down,” people actually say, “Ryan Seacrest is about to come on!”

We can do better, America.

Indeed we can.

Frankly, it’s been so long since I’ve “gone out” on New Year’s Eve that I couldn’t even tell you where we went. I think it was some restaurant in D.C. that was having a New Year’s Eve special deal of some kind of another. Even then, though, staying till midnight wasn’t even considered an option. As many have famously said, New Year’s Eve is amateur hour when it comes to parties even more than Mardi Gras. As for the fare at home, I can think of few things worse than spending the last couple hours of any year, no matter how bad it’s been, with Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper, and Kathy Griffin. So, none of that either. Quite honestly, it’s already 2013 in places like Australia and I’m not quite sure why it’s a special occasion when that moment happens to hit the East Coast of the United States.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. bk says:

    He’s still pissed that he didn’t get a motion-detector hand soap dispenser for Christmas, like his former fellow-Atlantic columnist did.

  2. JKB says:

    Even when younger, I took the view there were 364 other mornings to wake up with a hang over, why do that on the first day of a new year?

  3. Rafer Janders says:


    See, this is why America is great: even though we are bitter enemies on most issues, there are still moments when JKB and I can come together as one and agree.

  4. James H says:

    I’m planning to get together with a small group of friends this evening.

    That said, either this upcoming year or the following, I’m going to make it my business to get to Key West. They drop a giant fish.

  5. David says:

    If I think about it, at midnight I might roll over in bed or something. Nothing like living on the edge.

  6. Ernieyeball says:

    Worst Holiday Ever?….How about Earth Day!
    I think the late, great George Carlin nailed it…

    “I’m tired of f-ing Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths.”

  7. CSK says:

    The best New Year’s Eve I ever had? Home alone, with a pizza, watching the entire Jurassic Park trilogy. It was wonderful.

  8. Mikey says:

    New Year’s Eve is much better in Germany. Besides the far-superior food and fantastic beer, they make all sorts of fireworks legal to buy for the holiday. My German brother-in-law has a pistol that fires little rockets. No kidding.

    New Year’s Eve here just irritates my German-born wife. “It’s so BORING,” she says. And then she pretty much says what Conor and Doug said…only I’ve been hearing it for 20 years.

  9. Janis Gore says:

    This is Katie’s birthday. She gets the best parties ever.

  10. Franklin says:

    What is this? A bunch of party poopers hanging out on OTB complaining about other people having fun?

    /oh, wait, I’m here, too …

  11. John Burgess says:

    The last New Year’s I celebrated — and that was the first in a long time — was 2000 at Big Ben. All-in-all, it was a well-spent 10 hours. Tonight will likely see me in bed early, unless Netflix streaming coughs up something that keeps me otherwise occupied.

  12. Mikey says:

    An example of New Year’s in Europe (Sweden, in this case), a Swede took a panoramic photo from his balcony at midnight: new-year-s-eve-2013-from-my-blacony-in-nynashamn

  13. Franklin says:

    @Mikey: Nice, thanks for sharing.