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New Year’s Eve (aka) Sylvester holds no interest for me anymore

One editor's plans for welcoming 2012
By: Daniel Horowitz
Published: December 30th, 2011 in News » World

Not since I celebrated “Sylvester” in a Tel Aviv nightclub on the eve of the new millennium with my then-girlfriend Suzanne, have I truly had a spectacular, intoxicating (as in drunk) New Year’s Eve.

Of course, we Hebrews don’t officially celebrate the secular New Year – we have Rosh Hashanah for that - and in Israel, from the little I can remember about my night in Tel Aviv which I refer to as the prequel to the blockbuster “The Hangover”, New Year’s Eve is no big deal either.

But this year, from what I’m told by my Jerusalem-based buddy, Yossi, since most Israeli’s don’t work on Fridays, and with this year’s NYE coming on a Saturday night (well after Shabbos has ended) this year could be one of the most popular for this secular shindig.

Besides, who needs a night off to just have a few, dance a few, and laugh a few, more than our Israeli friends? That was a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer: Nobody!

But, even if they do celebrate on Saturday night in Israel, it doesn’t have the look, feel or sense of a Western New Year’s Eve. There are very few banners, noise-makers or party hats nor the other trappings of a NYE as we know it… and for good reason.

If you are one of the few unfortunate to actually be reading my rambling, you may have noticed that I referred to New Year’s Eve in Israel as “Sylvester”. And, no, I’m not referring to the cartoon cat with the annoying speech disorder.

In fact, I don’t know why they’ve inherited that particular name to refer to New Year’s, after all, "Sylvester," refers to the anti-Semitic pope whose saint's day falls on New Years Eve. It’s also the moniker given to the night by the Germans and, as you know, nothing says “party!” to Jews more than Germans and anti-Semites. Hell, had I known what we were celebrating in Tel Aviv lo’ those 12 years ago, I would have passed.

“Sylvester,” was the name of the “Saint” and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.). The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation. All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day - hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.

Wow, I was thinking about maybe hitting a couple of bars on New Year’s Eve, maybe drop in to a couple of parties I’ve been invited to, but, on second thought and after researching this article, I might just do what most Israelis do, and sit this one out and happily await the next Rosh Hashanah while happily flipping Sylvester the “bird”.

After all, the Leafs are playing the Jets on Saturday night. Hopefully, if it doesn’t go to overtime, I could get to bed by ten.

Related articles: New Year's Eve, Sylvester, tel Aviv, Party, Club, The Hangover, Drunk
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