I come from a country where the passing from one year to another is acknowledged with no more than a cheery, throwaway "Happy New Year" on seeing friends and family. It came as something of a shock to discover that in France people feel their new year's wishes are only sincere if they grip me by the shoulders or clench my hand in theirs, stare deep into my panicky eyes and launch into a long and detailed list of the innumerbale positive things — financial, medical, personal, professional, psychological, mechanical etc. etc. — that they wish for me in the coming year. It's all deeply embarrassing, especially my feeble two-word reciprocation: bonne année.
Anyway, consider yourselves gripped by the shoulders. Have a very happy 2008.