Shotguns Roaring, Pans Clanging: New Year’s Eve Traditions

On New Year’s Eve, our way into the new year was with a whole lot of clamor and clatter.

My Dad would, as was his way, fire off weapons. A shotgun in specific. As many pulls of the trigger as the coming year demanded, I suppose. This wasn’t just a show for the kids, either. Even when I was older and not living at home, he’d usually call me sometime around midnight to wish me a happy new year. He’d tell me that, yep, he still got out the shotgun, fired off a few into the sky. He might’ve been alone but the tradition still held. It still mattered — I don’t know why, but that’s often the way with traditions, isn’t it? You do them because you do them.

I like to think he was letting the approaching year know what it had coming if it decided to fuck with the old man. Kind of a, “Give me your best shot, New Year! Do your worst — that is, if you don’t mind getting a face full of bird shot, motherfucker!” CHOOM CHOOM CHOOM.

Or maybe he was scaring off demons. Or winged monkeys. Who the hell knows? Tradition was tradition, and tradition meant shotgun firing heavenward.

(One day I wondered if we’d see some colossal goose — like, the size of a catamaran — drop out of the sky and crash into our driveway. “Finally,” the old man would say with a fire in his eyes. “Been hunting that honking sonofabitch year after year.” He’d suck in a satisfied breath and then add: “We eat well tonight.”)

My grandmother — Mom-Mom — would bang pots and pants and demand that we, the grandchildren, do the same. I spent many a NYE at her place, waiting for the ball to drop, waiting for the clanging of the pans.

Once more, a tradition of noise: frighten away the bugbears and goblins of the coming year.

Funny thing is, traditions of this somewhat lesser holiday aren’t really pinned down. Christmas comes with a series of traditions shared widely — but NYE traditions always feel a bit looser, a more less universal, which is actually kind of awesome. What you do is what you do, for whatever reason you do it.

Which leads me to ask:

What do you do on NYE? I don’t just mean this year — I mean, what do you (or did you once) do every year? What traditions might you bring in order to herald in this squalling baby called “2011?”