Adventures in Anthropology

by Jay Nordlinger

At the end of today’s Impromptus, I tell a story involving “Happy New Year.” (The details aren’t important, in this lil’ post. The details are in the column.) A reader writes,

I lived in East Africa for ten years, and can report this about Uganda: There, it is culturally mandatory to greet others with “Happy New Year” at some point after January 1. You do this once, with each person. It is not sufficient to issue a blanket “Happy New Year” at the beginning of the year. You can’t send a mass e-mail or post a sign on a tree. You must offer “Happy New Year” individually, personally, and orally.

It makes no difference when the greeting is offered. I have met people for the first time of the year in February, March, or even July — and they have begun the conversation with “Happy New Year!” A nice custom, really.

The Corner

The one and only.