Historically, New Year's Eve has been a lame holiday for me. Shorter days = Seasonal Affective Depression/paler skin/atrophied muscles/propensity towards sickness. That, and I usually fail to plan something epic, meaning I've spent more than a few countdowns on the couch, waiting for midnight to come so I can turn on Dick Clark for two minutes then go to sleep immediately afterward.
I've always felt that my "New Year" really starts in August, too--up until this point, my life has revolved around the rhythm of classes starting on Labor Day, breaking in December, and finishing in June. Hence, the whole "new year's resolution" thing and all of the "starting anew" reflection/news montages/end of year top-ten lists have always been a tad difficult for me to relate to.
None the less, I really wanted this New Year's Eve to be epic in the way past New Year's haven't, because a) my family came to visit me! and b) I've always not so secretly wanted to be one of those idiots in Times Square, freezing, drunk, and overly jazzed about a completely arbitrary set of digits changing. I blame eight year of marching band for my unexplainable enthusiasm for these kinds of cheese-fests :)
And cheese-fest it was! My Ghana sistta Maggie (who is teaching in Daejon currently) met me and my family for the countdown in Seoul's downtown, near Jongo Tower. We holed up in a bar for a couple of hours beforehand near the madness, steeling ourselves for near absolute-zero temps outside. A bunch of people from the 'Bu Crew met up with us all too briefly, too. There was a big stage with a bunch of performers singing songs I was too buzzed/cold to recognize, a traditional drum troupe meandering about (with whom my parents danced, sweet Jesus why didn't I get a picture of that) and lots of people setting off Roman candles. At midnight, the gargantuan bell in the Bosingak pavilion was rung a few dozen times. Overall, it was a freezing, fun, and goofy New Year's Eve--which is exactly what I wanted.
Apparently Solar New Year here is nothing compared to the significance of Lunar New Year. The Year of the Tiger begins February 14th--it will be interesting to see how the celebrations are similar/different. I felt like a large proportion of the crowd on 12/31/09 was foreign--like Christmas, the solar New Year is a holiday with a Western origin, and is therefore Not Really A Big Deal Here. Strange, no?
Working on a post about my family's visit--several embarrassing family photos to come soon...