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Your New Year's Eve celebration sucks

Updated on October 19, 2012

Let's face it, the traditional New Year's celebration is pretty pathetic.

Oh, let's drink some champagne, kiss a stranger and sing some song that no one knows all the lyrics to, yay! Oh, and then make some generic, half-hearted resolution that you just know you'll break before March.

Pah! Compared to other cultures, that typical American celebration is pretty damn shallow. The Chinese spread their New Year's celebration out 13 days, and include gift giving, feasts, and awe inspiring parades. Australia often has rodeos and surf carnivals that take place on New Year's Eve and Day. The sneaky Russians turn New Year's into a second Christmas, believing that Old Man Frost and his daughter Snow Girl creep around on New Year's Eve and hand out presents. Switzerland, known for the precision of their timepieces, have decided to celebrate New Year's twice - once on the 31st of December, and again 13 days later!

Americans, we can do better! There is an easy fix, a simple ceremony that can fit in equally well at big parties, with a group of friends at a bar, or at home with family - it's called Toast, Boast, Vow.

Here is how Toast, Boast, Vow would work: The host begins, lifting his or her drink and makes a toast to thank everyone present for coming to the celebration and recognizing some accomplishment or good deed of one of the guests that happened in the past year. The host would then make a boast about one of their accomplishments during the year, and then make a vow to accomplish something in the new year.

The next person in line would then stand up and make their own Toast, Boast, Vow. Guests should feel encouraged to shout encouragement and support for particularly good toasts/boasts/vows.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the tradition has deep roots, primarily drawing from the Germanic tradition of Symbel - a type of formal banquet. Though to be authentic, I think you've all got to share a cup, and drink only mead.

As one modern heathen historian describes it:

The idea behind symbel is to place one's self into the flow of Wyrd (Bauschatz pp. 109-110),thus linking deeds of the past to those of the present, and affect those deeds of the future. The speech at symbel revolves around deeds past and present. Béowulf in the poem stated who his father was and boasted of past deeds prior to vowing to slay Grendel.

So try out Toast, Boast, Vow tonight, or at next year's New Year's party. Anything would be better than watching Ryan Seacrest prance around Times Square.


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