Sunday, August 9, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Crazy Ways Other Countries Ring in the New Year

With the finish line in focus, an exhausted nation races towards 2018 with outstretched arms. This year has been a pretty wild ride for America. Well. For the world, truth be known. Can I get an amen? But we made it. Just like we always do. Just like we always will. Whether you personally had a great 2017 or you’re more than ready to yank the chain and flush it, chances are you’re going to ring in 2018 by partying like it’s 1999 either way.

Some of the smarter ones will be watching the 11,875 lb. ball drop in Times Square as it has done since 1907, wisely choosing the safety of their sofa on the craziest night of the year.  But the majority will go for total immersion in keeping with our one-night a year custom of drinking too much champagne, dancing like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, spitting into obnoxious noisemakers, smooching on strangers, hitting the all-night breakfast bar at Denny’s on the way home, and doing all of the things we patriotic God-fearing American’s do in abidance with our traditions of typical new years eve behavior. Can I get another amen?

Outside of eating certain things on New Year’s Day, such as cabbage, black-eyed peas, or pork, and the aforementioned parties, America has little in the way of New Year’s customs or traditions. But just because we choose to spend the very first day of the new year with a raging hangover and a bad case of gas doesn’t mean the rest of the world agrees with our methods. You may find the traditions in these countries as odd as they probably find ours.

1    Takanakuy Festival – Peru

Depending on someone’s height, weight, muscularity, athletic prowess, and general “bad-to-the-bone-ness,” they may consider this a good idea. The majority of us would be horrified.

This tradition began in a small northern village but has since spread to large cities like Lima, and Cusco. The new year is a time of renewal. If two people are having a beef or a family quarrel, and it can’t be settled peacefully, there’s only one thing left to do since time is running out. They get together on Christmas day, get incredibly drunk, call each other out, and beat the crap out each other.

During a procession, men, and sometimes women, shout out the name of the person they need to settle things up with. Then, in front of a crowd to make sure things are done fair and square, they duke it out. Kicking and punching are both allowed but kicking someone when they are down is not allowed.

Lots and lots and lots of alcohol is consumed ahead of, during, and after the fights to help minimize the pain. Were it not for the crowd watching nothing would ever get settled because the fighters are so drunk it’s rare they remember who won the fight. Whoever is determined the winner also win’s the argument and all is forgiven between the two. So they say.
Takanakuy Festival   Peru
2    Denmark

The Danes have a custom of making quite a mess out of things. They stand back and hurl plates and glasses against their friends and relatives front doors letting the splintering glass fly everywhere. Dishes are saved up all year long especially for this purpose.

On December 31, they gather it all up and head out with destruction on their minds. The more broken glass someone finds on their porch, the wealthier they are in love and friendship. Also the bigger mess they get stuck cleaning up. Real friends would come over and help…
3    Ecuador

In Ecuador people make scarecrows and stuff them with paper. Then they gather up photos from the passing year. At the stroke of midnight, they set it all on fire. By cleansing the bad from the previous year, this tradition is said to bring them good fortune in the coming year. The effigies are of politicians, rock stars, pop-culture figures, or just someone they cannot stand.

The tradition started in 1895 after an outbreak of yellow fever when clothes from the dead were placed in coffins and burned. If someone really, really, wants to make certain their burning effigy does the job as intended, they jump over the flames 12 times.

Before setting an effigy on fire, men dress up like widows in mourning and beg money from people on the streets. Some of the effigies are elaborately painted and paraded through the streets but the average commoner buys a scarecrow suit and a mask from a street vendor and stuffs it themselves.
4    Latin America

Many Latin American countries believe the color of underwear worn on New Years Day will determine the type of luck to befall them in the coming year.

Read means a person is hoping for passion, romance, and love. If they’re wearing white all they want is peace, harmony, and to be happy. Blue is for good health, tranquility, and wellness. Green makes sense. It stands for nature, well-being, and life in general. Someone sporting pink is wanting a little help with their love-life.
Latin America
5    Chile

Though Chile presents an elaborate festive attitude on New Years, some traditionalists don’t believe in sky-rockets in flight, noisemakers, or drunken debauchery to roll in another new year. They more so prefer a solemn night spent in the company of family. Their dead family, that is. Graveyards come alive on this one night of the year when these folks pay respect to their deceased ancestors by spending the night in the cemetery with them.

Other traditions involve walking around the block with an empty suitcase if someone is hoping to get some travel in. If they are wanting to get hitched in the coming year, a toast with a gold ring in a glass of champagne ought to do the trick.
Everyone everywhere celebrates the new year in their own way, according to their customs and traditions. Yet. There is a universal wish we all share regardless our race, color, creed, gender, nationality, religion, or origin. May there one day be true peace on earth.

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