By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Last year I wrote about a Scottish New Year’s tradition – Hogmanay – that I assumed no one still living celebrated. So it has been startling to see more than 200 people from around the world have Googled the event and were directed to our blog site. Heck, I don’t pretend to be the Emily Post of Hogmanay but apparently there is not a lot of resource material on how to celebrate New Year’s like a true Scot. So it got me to thinking that maybe this year I should shine the light on other obscure new year celebrations from around the world. After all, in the U.S. the NCAA has taken care of our celebration by kindly scheduling the two semi-final BCS bowl games on New Year’s Eve. Personally, I’m not a fan of going out on New Year’s – or staying up until midnight for that matter. I’m thrilled that on Thursday night I will don my formal sweat pants, start a fire, open a bottle of wine, order a pizza and watch football. But in case you’re interested in doing something a little more exotic, we here at “A Bird’s Eye View” offer up the following suggestions from around the world.
Jump in to 2016: In Denmark, people celebrate December 31 by climbing up on chairs and at the stroke of midnight, they leap off of them to signal their “jump” into the new year. I don’t know about you but I’ve been at many a NYE party where climbing on the furniture was de rigueur but that was 30 years and 30 martinis ago. At this age I have visions of my friends struggling to even get up on a chair, much less jumping off one. Heck, they have had broken hips and torn ACL’s taking their dogs for a walk. Perhaps all of the climbing and jumping should be left to young Danes with strong bone structure.
Talk to the Animals: In both Belgium and Romania, farmers start the new year by talking to their animals. What separates the sophisticated Belgians (who really should be focusing on their chocolate) and the crazy Romanians is that in Romania they believe that if the animal communicates back then it portends bad luck for the year. I don’t want to seem critical here but I think that if you perceive that your cow is talking back to you, bad luck is not your biggest problem.
Re-decorate: In South Africa, it is a new year’s tradition to throw old furniture out the window on January 1. When I first saw this photo it reminded me of our old neighborhood on “bulk trash day”. It’s amazing what people throw out – and how little of it is still on the street after the midnight raid of Ebay enthusiasts. In any event, for those of you who wish to re-decorate but are getting some resistance from your spouse, you can just throw everything into the street on Friday and claim that you are channeling your inner South African.
Eat, Drink, and Eat Again: In France, the beginning of a new year is marked by eating a stack of pancakes. Not those leaden “All You Can Eat” type down at the Waffle House, but light, fluffy cakes that melt in your mouth. I eat a stack every Sunday at our local café so I guess I will be right on trend this week. In Estonia, they celebrate January 1 by eating as much as they can – they refer to it as “Eating in Abundance Day”. Quality is of no concern, they are driven by the sheer quantity of food they can consume in a day. Given that as the criteria, I think I’ve been celebrating Estonian New Year’s for the past month.
Duke it Out: Finally, my favorite tradition – the Peruvian fist fight. Every December in a small village they celebrate the Takanakuy Festival, whereby residents engage in fist fights to settle their differences. Brilliant!! Seriously, how many of us have wanted to haul off and slug somebody when they’re being annoying? Just this morning in the grocery store there was a woman who trailed me around the store speaking on her cell phone in a loud voice about her lawsuit against her employer, her daughter’s no good boyfriend, and on and on. Despite several dirty looks from those around her (mostly me) she persisted. Now if I lived in Takanakuy, I could have simply given her a good jab to the left jaw and no one would have blinked an eye. It’s probably just as well we don’t celebrate this tradition, it being an election year and all. Things are dicey enough.
I hope this has gotten your creative juices flowing on how to celebrate New Year’s. Whether you choose to watch football, gorge, jump off a chair or talk to your dog, my brother and I wish you and yours a very HAPPY year ahead.