Sunday, December 28, 2008

The History of New Year's Eve

A new year is coming up in a matter of days, and I feel it is my duty to inform the masses as to the real meaning behind the reason for celebrating the New Year on New Year's Eve.
A long, long time ago when there wasn't even any Hollywood, an evil prince named New Year ruled a small fiefdom in the Holy Roman Empire which was comprised of sheep herders, cattle rustlers, horse wranglers, mule skinners, and mathematicians.

Prince New Year was evil in the normal sense. He would pick up rocks and throw them at the cattle to make them stampede; when a horse wrangler needed help, he'd offer to hold the rope and then let it "slip" through his fingers; when the mathematicians postulated on the best equations to define the shapes of non-euclidean objects, he'd come up behind them and "bestow" them with atomic wedgies. In short, Prince New Year was an asshole.

But the worst was that he engaged the lowly herders, rustlers, wranglers, skinners, and mathematicians in close quarters conversation about the weather, his pustules, and the annual wrangling festival. This was not bad in itself, but the prince had very bad halitosis. And the prince knew that he had halitosis, but he didn't take any effort to do anything about it. And so it became a kind of game for the prince to see who could bear his tonsil vapors from Hell's bowels without vomiting.

But despite all of Prince New Year's shortcomings, he did a very good job of defending the castle. The only trouble is that the herders, rustlers, wranglers, skinners, and mathematicians didn't actually live inside the castle, and so when invaders would ride in to steal the sheep and trample the mathematicians' rose garden, Prince New Year could be seen on the parapet shouting to some poor shmuck who was trying to outrun a hairy man with a very large sword: "Hey! Don't run down there, I think I see some more of the enemy! Run in a zigzag fashion! There you go! No don't go that way! NO DON'T...ooooh just shake it off. You don't need that much intestine anyway...OH GEEZ! I didn't think he was going to do THAT to you! Don't worry, I'll get you a soprano part in the wrangling festival choir!"

And after each raid, the fiefdom would slowly rebuild itself, calm the sheep, and the mathematicians would study ways to build defenses. Prince New Year would usually make the rounds of all the herders, wranglers, rustlers, skinners, and mathematicians and complain that he would've let them all in had his gate guard not been asleep and thus unable toraise the portcullis. "Next time!" he'd cry, and flash a mossy-toothed smile.

If it weren't for the lavish wrangling festival that Prince New Year held once every 365 days, the townspeople would have deposed the prince a long time ago. And so life continued, with plenty of herding, wrangling, rustling, skinning, and mathematicianing to go around. And soon enough, the raids became less frequent due to the mathematicians throwing non-euclidean shaped objects at the invaders which would make them stop and say, "Now, how in the HELL did he make that?!" giving the skinners enough time to cull the invaders.

But one fateful day while Prince New Year was kissing some mule skinner's babies (which began spitting up milk), a thought suddenly came to the prince. "I've been the sole owner of my fief long enough. I should like to share it with a pretty wife who's a wild sheep in the bed, and who will bear bare children." And so with the thought inseminated in the prince's head, he dropped the baby and ran off to the castle.

Upon reaching the castle's parapet, Prince New Year looked far and wide for a fair maid. He saw several of the herders' daughters, but they were hale and hardy, and might be more inclined to whap him upside the head if he so much as sneezed in their direction. The rustlers' daughters were buxom but their heads were filled with ideas of utopian society and equality. "Hmph!" the prince snorted, "nonsense!" Over to the east he saw the wranglers' daughters. Now there was a sight. A few of them were attempting to stand upon horses at a full trot, with other daughters standing on their shoulders, so as to make a large pyramid shape. "Looks dangerous, frivilous, and fun. Definitely not my type," mused the prince. And so with a heavy sigh, he turned his bleary eyes to the small spot in his fief that had large non-euclidean statues and stout towers as an encampment. "Let me see what the eggheads have to offer," thought the prince. At first he saw girls far too young to marry, until he saw the prettiest woman that he had seen in his entire life. Her name was Eve and she was scratching her legs, but that didn't detract any from her beauty, since many beautiful people itch just like you and me.

Prince New Year ran down from his castle and entered the mathematicians' encampment and saw Eve standing there, drinking from the well. She saw him, he saw her, he smiled, she surpressed her gag reflex and said, "Good day, m'lord, is there anything you wish of me?" "Why yes, fair lady, what is your name?" "Eve, sir, is there anything I can do for you?" "Why, yes, I want to marry you, so that you will bear my children and share this fief with me! What say you to that?" "I'm afraid I am already to be married to the young apprentice mathematician Gregory Calender." "Oh, fiddlesticks! He'll understand!"

And with that, Prince New Year grabbed Eve by her arm and dragged her to his castle, all while whispering sweet nothings (and a few raunchy nothings) in her ear, while poor Eve held her breath. Prince New Year had garlic and kippers for breakfast that morning, so he had bad breath on top of his halitosis, and his description of married life was not appealling to Eve: "...And then when you've finished scrubbing my feet, I'll let you trim my back hair. Aha! Here we are, my little flea! This is your room for tonight, though mine is down the hall in case you get lonely during the night. Tomorrow, you shall be New Year's Eve!"

Eve sat down on the edge of her bed and inhaled the air that was no longer polluted by Prince New Year's garlicked, kippered halitosis. And then, she cried since she didn't know what to do and she didn't relish the thought of having to live with Prince New Year for the rest of her life. "Am I really going to wake up every morning and roll over to see him there, grinning, blowing rotten-fish smelling kisses in my face? Oh god, what if he sleeps nude?" and with that thought, Eve lost her lunch.

Now, Eve's departure had not gone unnoticed in the fiefdom. You see, Eve was not only the prettiest girl in the land, but she was also the kindest and smartest. Everyone was happy to see her, and everyone was glad that she was to be married to the apprentice mathematician Gregory Calender who was equally handsome, smart, and kind. Everyone knew the two would be very happy together, and so when Prince New Year took off with Eve, a young mathematician who happened to be taking a break from her lessons witnessed the entire thing and began telling the news to everyone. Soon the entire fiefdom knew, except for Gregory Calender. He had been busy attempting to build a non-euclidean stone house for him and his soon-to-be-wife Eve, but some of his equations were off, and the house kept collapsing. When the herders, rustlers, wranglers, skinners and other mathematicians came to him and told the news, he clenched his fists in rage and spoke: "How long have we put up with that asshole?! How long has he yelled out crap advice for us when we get raided?! How long has he talked our ears off while spewing his breath in our faces that smells of Satan's flatulence? And he knows his breath stinks! Sure the wrangling festival is good, but it's not that great! Wouldn't we be better off without him, and with a leader we elect who makes decisions that are good for us to live together in harmony and economic stability? I say we meet here tonight, and get rid of New Year once and for all!"

Gregory Calender went to work at once, scouring the recesses of his brain's sulci for an equation that would put an end to Prince New Year. "I'll be damned if Eve becomes New Year's!" Gregory muttered, as he worked on and on. Finally he was able to derive an equation for a non-euclidean object that was so intense, so mind-shattering, so alien, that it would drive the viewer insane. Gregory made the object and covered it with a cloth, vowing to destroy the object and its equation when he was finished. Gregory knew that it was too much power to entrust the equation to one man, and too dangerous to entrust it to many, and so it would be better for the world if the weapon was properly disposed of after its purpose was fulfilled.

And so the herders, wranglers, rustlers, skinners, and mathematicians marched to the castle with Gregory Calender at the lead. When they got to the front of the castle, they saw the portcullis was down. Apparently the guard was still asleep. They huddled together and used the best of their brains and talents to figure out how to get Gregory over the portcullis and into the castle. "We know!" cried the hale and hardy herders' daughters. "We will throw him up in the air!" "And he will land on our shoulders as we make our pyramid!" yelled the wranglers' daughtgers. "But he will bounce off our big bosoms and land into the courtyard," said the rustlers' daughters.

Gregory thought it over, and it seemed to be a sound plan. He'd seen how strong the herders' daughters were, he'd seen how agile the wranglers' daughters were as acrobats. He knew how large the breasts of the rustlers' daughters were (after all, the rustlers' daughters would help fend off attacks by using their breasts as weapons to knock the invaders senseless). "Alright, I have the non-euclidean statue, and I have a heart full of passion for my Eve. Let's do this!"

Gregory ran at full speed to the hale and hardy daughters, who threw him up on the shoulders of the agile acrobatic daughters who dropped him onto the large buxom daughters' breasts, where he bounced off them with a "boing!" and landed safely into the courtyard!

The crowd went wild! But Gregory had no time for applause. He dashed up the stairs and into Prince New Year's chambers, throwing the non-euclidean statue. "Behold thine eyes and go into madness!" Prince New Year was busy scratching himself, but when he heard those words, he looked up, hand still busy, and saw a statue of indefineable geometry and design hurtling at him. As he thought to himself, "Now how in the HELL did he make that?!" his brain's dendrites sparked and burned out, leaving the prince in a state of insanity. Gregory then dashed the statue against the floor, its purpose fulfilled. He crept into Eve's room who threw her arms around him and smooched up a storm. The next day they wed, which was also the day upon the wrangling festival was held. The herders, rustlers, wranglers, skinners, and mathematicians all agreed that with the Prince New Year no longer serving as ruler of the fiefdom, that Gregory Calender should be the new ruler. So they voted, and it was unanimously in favor of young Gregory.

All the townspeople thought that due to the events, the day should be marked as a holiday. But they had no way to measure time effectively. Seasons came and went, but there was no real way to tell when they happened. Gregory put his mind to this, and came up with an idea. "I know," he said, "we'll have a day measured as the amount of time it takes the earth to complete one revolution, and we'll have 365 of these days measure into one unit. The unit will be called Sackelty." And upon this, someone snickered and said, "We should call it a Year, and the day after the last day, New Year's Day since he was deposed as a ruler!" The crowd guffawed and agreed that the unit of 365 days would be called a year, and the first day of the new year would be called New Year's Day. Eventually the last day of the year was referred to as New Year's Eve as a remembrance to how close the pretty Eve was to marrying the stinky Prince New Year. Originally New Year's Eve was a somber celebration, but as the story got to be more well known, people knew the ending and forwent the somberness and gravity of New Year's Eve, and just went ahead and had a good time then.

And so from this small fiefdom of herders, wranglers, rustlers, skinners, and mathematicians, two new holidays were born along with a new system to predict the dates of the seasons. And to this day we honor the brave young man who stood up to Prince New Year by calling his system of measuring years and seasons the Gregorian Calender.
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