New Year's Eve has always been an exciting time, remembering the past year (and in more recent years, wondering what in the world happened to the previous year, since I could swear I just celebrated New Year a couple months ago), and looking forward to the upcoming year. In the Philippines, New Year's Eve often meant going up to Faith Academy, our school, situated on a hill overlooking Manila. From there we could count down the seconds and watch the fireworks until the city lights were blotted out by the smoke from firecrackers, fires, and anything that made noise or fire. Some Filipinos believe that the loud noises chase the evil spirits away, so it is a very loud night. Our dog once tore up the screen door because he was so terrified. The fireworks and firecrackers I can handle, but I do not miss the burning tires. Worst smell ever. I expect whoever came up with the word mabaho (Tagalog for "putrid") had burning tires in mind.
Anyway, more recently, I have not had the pleasure of celebrating the New Year in the Philippines. In the US, it is quite a bit quieter, but still exciting. Sometimes I will attend parties, or stay home and watch the fireworks on TV, or any number of things. I was in Memphis on New Year's Eve 2009, returning the following day (and year) to Seattle. It was then that I learned about the Southern tradition of black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day, which I have tried to do since then. I found them at the store earlier today and plan to prepare them for our family celebration next year...er, tomorrow.
In 1947, Frank Loesser (known for his musicals Guys & Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, among others) wrote a song asking what you'll be doing on New Year's Eve. He observes that it may be too early to ask, but I'll ask it anyway. What are you doing that day? Who will you be hugging as midnight approaches and you ring in the new year? I'm sure you've received tons of invitations, and I'm probably crazy to hope that you'll choose me (Pikachu...oh wait, where was I? Australia.) Just in case you would like to hang out on New Year's Eve, here's the jackpot question: What are you doing New Year's Eve?
Clearly, the singer wants to invite the singee (the spellcheck doesn't like that word...couldn't imagine why) to celebrate the occasion with him or her (depending on who's singing). I find it interesting that Loesser calls it the jackpot question. But then, he also wrote Luck, Be a Lady, so I guess the gambling reference makes sense. It also makes sense because the whole song, it's been building up to this. The singer is asking early because he expects that the guest will have lots of invitations. This must be a popular person! Did he get to her soon enough? What are the odds that she already has plans? If so, can she change them? It's likely he's tried previous years and has been too late, so he's trying earlier this time. Maybe, just maybe, if he invites her early enough, he'll hit the jackpot! "Luck, if you've ever been a lady to begin with, luck, be a lady tonight!"
(So, maybe it would have been more appropriate for me to blog this in September?) :-)
What's that you ask? What am I doing New Year's Eve? I'm at home blogging about a classic Frank Loesser song: "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"