Dean Obeidallah: You can stop saying Happy New Year now. It's tacky and too late
Even South Jersey School of Etiquette president said after the first week, stop
He says we don't say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah when those holidays are over
Obeidallah: It gets progressively more insincere. Lets agree to cut off the greeting at 7 days
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog “The Dean’s Report” and co-director of the upcoming documentary, “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy
It’s now a week after New Years Day. Can we please stop saying, “Happy New Year?” Telling people “Happy New Year” more than a week after the first of the year is like keeping your Christmas lights up until February. It’s tacky. And I grew up in New Jersey; I know a thing or two about tacky.
Plus it’s bad New Year’s etiquette. That’s not just me talking, that’s the opinion of etiquette expert Crystal Seamon-Primas, founder of the South Jersey School of Etiquette. (Stop laughing. We are not all “Jersey Shore.”) Seamon-Primas told me: “In my opinion, after the first week, I stop wishing others a Happy New Year, the new year is well on its way.”
The biggest reason we need to stop New Year’s wishes weeks into the year is that it sounds so insincere. Hollow, not heartfelt, like something you say to a co-worker you really don’t know well to fill an awkward silence, a small step up from, “That’s some weather we’re having, huh?”
The same goes for the insincerity you detect when people greet you a few days after January 1 with the question: “So how’s your new year been so far?” Really? You are actually asking if I have survived the first “grueling” 48 hours of the year? If you really care about how my year is going, ask me in October.
Look: No one says “Happy Thanksgiving” on December 1. I never heard anyone offer a “Happy Fourth of July” on July 6. And when is the last time you heard a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” on March 19?
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Even with the big religious holidays, well wishing starts before the holiday and stops with its occurrence. Go ahead and joyfully exchange wishes of “Have a Merry Christmas” the week before the holiday through Christmas Day, but not on December 29. Happy Hanukah greetings are fine throughout the eight-day holiday but not after. And Ramadan wishes are contained within the 30 days of the holy month and stop with the Eid celebration at the month’s end.
Sure, I get it: It’s a wish for a full year, not just a day. But among the vast array of omens that predict good fortune for the coming year, not one involves saying Happy New Year’s for weeks on end. Believe me, there are some odd superstitions out there that will supposedly bring you luck for the year, from kissing a loved one as the clock strikes midnight to writing your new year’s wishes on a piece of paper and planting it in the ground to eating lentils or black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
There are even admonitions to avoid certain activities on New Year’s Day because they portend bad luck for the coming year. One such superstition tells us that eating poultry on New Year’s Day means you will financially struggle for the coming year, which I really wish I had known before I ate chicken with mixed vegetables on January 1.
If even one custom instructed us that extended New Year’s wishes would increase the chances the year would indeed be a good one, I’d be saying Happy New Year’s every day until April. But none do.
Consequently, I propose that from here out we need to come together in a bipartisan fashion – as a lesson to our dysfunctional Congress – and stop with New Year’s wishes after the first seven days of the year. If someone does offer you such a greeting two or three weeks into the New Year, don’t be rude, simply explain that it’s like wishing someone Happy Valentines Day on February 18
In time, hopefully we’ll all be on the same page on this issue. However, even if you are reading this after January 7, I still sincerely wish you, and your family, a very happy and healthy New Year. But this is the very last time I will say that in 2013.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.