When Is It Time To Stop Saying Happy New Year?

Belated New Years Greetings cards
Psha. That kid knows nothing. It can totally be too late to wish someone a happy New Year. (Source: hindilovestory.com)

Okay, so it’s January 7, the last day of the first week of 2014.

And here we are, children of the digital age, for whom time moves at warp speed and memory clings to nothing and yet, seven days later, we somehow have managed to remember the relatively insignificant occasion of a single-digit change. Sure, we can’t remember what we ate for lunch yesterday, but we’re still going on with it, wishing people a happy New Year. We remember that happened.

I’m no curmudgeon. I enjoy wishing people a happy New Year. I like sending good vibes and all that warm, mushy stuff.

My friend Kitti, though… not so much.

It was just minutes into 2014 during my New Year’s revelry with a bunch of Bensonhurst (and Borough Park) friends, when Kitti turned and asked “So when is it time to stop wishing people a happy New Year?”

This question turned into a source of great debate among friends.

Is it two weeks in? Three weeks in? Can you still wish someone a happy New Year in March?

Are there different standards for good friends and family versus acquaintances?

I said six weeks. Why not? Seemed like a fair amount of time.

Another friend said he goes until the end of January. If he hasn’t seen you to wish you a happy New Year by that point? Well, you’re just not that good a friend anyway.

Someone else said they’d wish those they considered important a happy New Year well into March if they hadn’t spoken to them yet. Others? Well, only if they happen to run into each other within a few days after New Year’s.

It’s not just a source of debate among us, either. The question came up on Yahoo Answers back in 2008 (Happy 2008, by the way!), and one “expert” said January 5 was the customary cutoff, otherwise you’re just an “annoyance to society.” And the UK’s News Shopper dedicated a whole etiquette column to the burning question (and came up with no answers). On one forum, a poster groused about the courtesy going beyond January 2: “You know it is polite to say it that night, the next day but almost a week and people are still shouting it out! When can we stop?” In fact, a Google search for “when to stop wishing happy new year” turned up 4.5 million results.

One thing is clear: everyone’s got a different standard. And this is certainly a major source of panic for the polite among us. “Oh my, I wished him a happy New Year on January 10. Is that okay?” Clearly, friendships are ruined over these very things.

When do you stop wishing people a happy New Year, and why?

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