My best New Year’s Eve memories are from Berlin. Each year I did a little something different but it always ended with a walk home at dawn after a night of cooking dinner at a friend’s place, bonkers fireworks, and then talking the night away. This year was so different; I had no plans and didn’t try to make any.

A few days before the end of the year, my friend Manola mentioned that she watches the sun rise every New Year’s Day and said I could join her. It’s a tradition she started after living for ten years in Japan, where she says watching the sunrise is an auspicious event that is contemplative rather than celebratory. When she returned to the States, she continued the tradition because it was a low-key but meaningful way to observe the coming year—and she could do it wherever she happened to be.

We agreed to meet on a bluff overlooking St Paul for New Year’s Day. The temperature that morning was -14F/-25C. When I arrived, Manola and two friends were already there drinking mulled wine and eating egg sandwiches. I left Metro in the car under a down blanket and joined them. But with temps that cold, we lasted maybe 10 minutes before everyone fled to their cars.

All in all a completely different start to the new year than in years past, but I loved it and would do it again. I be curious if any of you have a tradition for welcoming the new year that isn’t the usual script?

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