Today The Times' editorial board lists wishes for the new year and cliches that it hopes will die with the old. Boards of the past practiced something similar--in the 1950s, The Times printed predictions for upcoming years, and favorite quotes from preceding ones. Other New Year pieces were more serious, such as a Jan. 1, 1946 editorial that wondered what a world remade by war would look like. But digging deeper into the archives yields editorials that just wanted to boost Los Angeles
, a parochial, distant burg, and weather
seemed the only way to do it. On 1919, the board spared no one but the Scots in its mockery of new year's traditions anywhere-but-here: not Chicago, not the South, not China
. Read on for some old-fashioned racism, sexism and regionalism (or something) and be thankful to live in 2008.
This Day and Others
There's many a man will be wearing a rosebud or a carnation today in the buttonhole of his coat, here in the sunshine of Southern California -- a flower that he picked out of his own garden -- who will be glad he is not where he used to be on other New Year's days that he can remember.
For, outside of a goodly and highly-respected number of Native Sons who are "in our midst," as the saying is, this most extraordinarily favored portion of the world is mostly inhabited by wise folk who came from somewhere else.
This "somewhere else" referred to might well be also called anywhere else, for the reason that this day on the calendar here is an altogether different kind of day than it is anywhere else. Here there are roses and green things, grass and pepper trees, sun bonnets and barefoot boys today.
Anywhere else there is snow and icy blasts, woolen mufflers, slides, arctic overshoes, sneezes and coughs and colds.
Thus, on New Year's Day as well as upon other days of the year, the world is divided into two parts -- California and the Outlands. In that way we go Gaul one better, as it was regarded by the justly-celebrated Julius Caesar, who was something of a writer as well as a fighting man, but who would not be regarded so highly in these changed times as he was in his own.
Wherefore, all this and more being true, we repeat that there will be many a man today in this part of the world who will remember the beginnings of other years when his festivities were steam-based and his enjoyment insulated in yarn and furs. He will remember how his nose was frozen going to a dance, and his ears frosted on his way home.
Nor will it help him much to recall the kind of eyes and hair the girl had who was with him then. Love may laugh at locksmiths, but it can't laugh in a blizzard or at the air when it freezes in chunks right before your face just as you realize that you have got to breathe or die.
When a man who has gone through all that for years and the larger half of a lifetime finds himself saying "Happy New Year" to you here in California del Sur you may be sure he means it
It is indeed interesting to observe how various are the ways by which New Year's is celebrated in different parts of the world, the strangest way of all perhaps being in China, where the people celebrate a New Year by paying all their debts.
The Chinese, however, are still wedded to heathen idols, and it is a well-known fact that they do everything backwards. But, far be it from us to interfere with them or their manners. The doctrine of self-determination is now the thing, and we approve of it for all nations and all races. Besides, it is rather difficult for a people to break up a habit that they have had for 6,000 years or more.
Now, in Chicago and New York they have another way of celebrating New Year's. they simply rush out of one place into another to keep warm by standing up against steam radiators
. We understand, however, that the custom in Philadelphia is to celebrate by increasing the speed limit on Chesnut street from one mile an hour to a mile and a quarter.
As we recall the day in New England and in the Southern States, the proper way to celebrate there is to make calls and to leave a card in the little basket hanging on the door knob. There was a certain kind of excitement in this that tingled in one's blood for hours afterward.
But, when you come right down to what New Year's Day is you will find that it is really a day invented for Scotchmen. This and the birthday of Robert Burns are Scots days, pure and simple, and nothing else.
Wherever on the face of the earth there are as many as two Scots gathered together they will celebrate this day down to the last dry whistle there is in it. They will toast Prince Charlie and Robert Bruce and St. Andrew in glasses that have the smell of burnt heather and peat smoke in them. They will put on their kilts and play the bagpipes and look and act just as they did when they chased the Hun over the map of Europe and marched with Kitchener into Khartoum.
It is good to be a Scot any day of the year, but it is glorious to be one on New Year's Day
. With this we seem to have covered the ground, except to remark that San Francisco will celebrate the day trying to remember what it did and where it went after it had been extricated from the squeeze on Market street the night before.
Well, why not let us make a glad day of it, whoever we are and wherever we may happen to be?
God knows it is time for the world to learn again the art to laugh. We have had sorrows enough for a long time. We have sat long at the fireside of grief
Let us resolve to love our country, our wives, our sweethearts and all womankind with a new fervor. Let us resolve to go more frequently to church, to pay the preacher a better salary and to put more into the contribution boxes when they are passed to clothe the savage or to convert the heathen.
We are to remember that this world is now the greatest and the best world that any man ever lived in. Men have clothed themselves in new robes of valor; women are arrayed in a glory that transcends the greatest glories of the past
God wants us to be happy.