People no doubt are wondering am I as cynical about New Year as I am about Christmas. The answer is no, of course not. New Year is just an excuse to party based on the fact you had to buy a new diary. It also gives a good point at which to assess and/or reassess the previous 12 months and/or the years since your birth. Of course you can do this any time, and I would advise not waiting until midnight on the the 31 December to do this, as you'll assessment will probably be along the lines of, "I need another drink." But the approximate time of year offers a real opportunity to do this.
I don't really go in for resolutions because if there's something you want to start doing, start doing it there and then. The main thing that new years resolutions bring is a feeling somewhere mid-to-late January (or February if you're lucky or sometimes even early-January) that you are a failure and can't stick to anything. Okay, there was a little cynicism there.
Although the calendar we use is based on a miscalculation of the year of birth of the same popular rabbi as Christmas is the incorrect date of, there isn't really any religious message in the New Year. Probably because Jesusians are all religioned out after Christmas.
In the Netherlands, the new year is heralded in with a huge display of firepower. Enough fireworks are set off to completely destroy Luxembourg. They are set off by individuals, groups, companies, councils, the government and probably even the queen. All with varying degrees of concern for public safety.
At the time in question this year I, some friends, some friends of friends and some champagne were on a roof in centralish Amsterdam which afforded us a 360 degree view of the glittering weapons of mass distraction all around. Very impressive and still disconcerting as someone who grew up in the UK where fireworks are treated as the most deadly of things, to be feared almost as much as The Black Death and Paedophiles.
Catherine and I didn't go on to the big organised party with everyone else as I had to work the next day (in the exciting world of international support, somebody has to). As it happened the day was very, very quiet and so I could spend time fighting my hangover and reading two weeks of unread email.
The Dutch with their fondness for social formality have to greet all their colleagues when they get back to work. That was easy on Jan 1st when about 7 of us were working. But on the second the number was more like 25. That means there were up to 600 handshakes and cheek-kissings that morning. Enough to power a small village for a day.
So with Luxembourg destroyed but one small village given light for a day, I wish you a happy and preposterous 2007.