New Year’s experiences

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Sydney’s Harbour Bridge lights up in 2012

Over the years I have experienced a variety of different New Year’s Eve celebrations. Many of my earlier Eves were spent with my family; for a few years my parents and their friends would alternate hosting duties from year to year.

In 1999, my then-15-year-old self won a bottle of Chivas Regal for my victim costume. It was a very simple costume featuring a white shirt, stained with fake blood, and a knife headband (which dug into my head, so I had to reinforce it with cotton buds).

Award-winning costume
Award-winning costume

Four years later I spent New Year’s Eve with my cousins in Chile’s Valparaiso port, watching amazing fireworks and then going to a nightclub. On the way home somebody gave us cookies which we left for the concierge of my cousins’ apartment building.

My next big New Year’s Eve was spent on a sleeper train traveling from Xi’an to Beijing, China in 2007. Our tour group had purchased drinks, food (including a dragonfruit!) and learned how to count down from 10 in Mandarin for this very occasion. We celebrated multiple times, one for midnight AEDT, then again for Western Australia and Beijing time.

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Starting the year on a sleeper train

In 2008 I experienced a very different New Year’s Eve in Piura, Peru, with the traditional burning of a human doll, possibly wearing old clothes (I didn’t ask!) to symbolise getting rid of the old and welcoming the new. The dolls are occasionally filled with firecrackers though I can’t remember if they were on this occasion.

This was probably the strangest tradition I have come across, although I am well aware of a lot of the latino traditions, which I have admittedly not stuck to in the past few years.

These traditions are supposed to help you start the year right and include:

  • Wearing yellow underwear, eating a spoonful of lentils and eating one grape per month of the year for good luck and to ensure money comes your way,
  • Running up and down stairs holding some sort of luggage to ensure that you will travel at some stage of the year.

I hope your New Year celebrations were as interesting as some of mine have been. This year I had a quiet one, watching the 9 o’clock fireworks from a pier near my home, then having a nice home-made meal with my partner. We drank a delicious spiced dark ale that we’d bought in Tasmania back in February, and watched the midnight fireworks on TV.

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