The earliest recorded New Year’s celebration was approximately 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Revellers of the pagan ritual known as “Akitu” rang in the new year by, among other things, forcing their king to submit before Marduk, the god of water, vegetation, magic and judgment. The high priests then stripped the king of his ceremonial dress and slapped him, hard, upside the head.
The moral of this story? You could be ruler of an empire, rich in wives and treasure, feared and revered by men and women across the land, and New Year’s would still be a bust. In fact, New Year’s Eve is almost always a bust. In a modern urban context the holiday doesn’t (usually) involve ritual sacrifice or submission before a vengeful deity but something arguably far worse: $150 for a prix fixe menu at a crappy restaurant that includes a piece of rubbery chicken and a tiny glass of Champagne; an overpriced Uber to and from said restaurant, and a $50 cover at a bar — any bar. (It could have zero working toilets and cockroach-infested beer taps, but if it’s Dec. 31 you might as well be drinking at the Four Seasons as far as your wallet is concerned.)