Not to be contrary, but I am mildly confused by the common practice of wishing people "Happy New Year" before the New Year has begun. Today is the Feast of Saint Sylvester of Rome. Thus it would make sense to wish people a Happy Sylvester's Day today and wait until after midnight tonight to extend New Year's greetings. Mayhaps the common (anticipatory) practice is not so much jumping the gun as it is invoking a wish FOR the New Year -- peace, happiness, prosperity, cheaper gas -- which does make sense, when offered in advance of the commencement of it.