In America, New Year’s Eve has never really been a big deal for me. Call it holiday fatigue, if you will. After all the stress of the Christmas season, which begins increasingly earlier every year (I hear they’re putting out Christmas decorations at Groundhog’s Day this year), I’ve really never wanted to get out. With the exception of some of the Christian conferences I’ve attended on December 31st, I typically sit quietly at home waiting for Dick Clark to surprise everyone by still being alive.
Me wearing my White Elephant gift
Well, leave it to Central Asia to blow my conception of New Year’s out of the water! I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. New Year’s, or Novie Goad in my approximate Russian transliteration, is an amalgamation of New Year’s and Christmas, with the pizzazz of the Fourth of July thrown in. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, lights, and reindeer clutter the landscape—but not for Christmas, for Novie Goad. It contains all the trappings of materialistic Christmas, with none of the spiritual significance.
My roommate Jon wearing his White Elephant gift (before it was stolen away!)
One of the most spectacular parts of Novie Goad is the fireworks. Unlike America where there are large professional fireworks followed by small fireworks at home (or possibly no fireworks because they’re illegal), Central Asia seemingly has no such professional display. The reason is that they don’t need to—everyone has bought near-professional-quality fireworks for themselves. When midnight hits, everyone shoots them off as far as the eye can see. Thankfully (and surprisingly, given my city’s status as the NYC of Central Asia), the night of Novie Goad was clear, and I could see all the way to the mountains. With sensational fireworks going over every 3 seconds and in every direction every 20 yards, it felt as though the glory of God was exploding out of the heavens. For me, New Year’s will never be the same again.