New Year’s experiences

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.

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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