Happy New Year!
Saying farewell to an old year and greeting an upcoming new year is one of the most celebrated holidays all around the world. Naturally, there are plenty of different traditions in each partaking country. Today, we would like to tell you a bit about traditions in Peru, Kenya, Cambodia and Germany.
If you happen to celebrate New Year’s in Peru, you should not forget to pack your yellow underwear. Wear them inside out underneath your clothes until the stroke of midnight. Flip them around as you greet the New Year. The color yellow represents happiness, luck and positive energy. You don’t happen to have yellow panties? No worries, you will find street sellers where you can gear up right before New Year’s.
Another tradition in the Chumbivilcas Province (near Cusco) is called Takanakuy, which literally translates to “hitting each other”. Basically, two people fist fight each other and become reconciled right afterwards. The idea is to settle any dispute before the upcoming new year, so that you can greet it without any hate nor argument, but in peace with one another.
Kenya doesn’t have as specific traditions as Peru. Kenyans didn’t celebrate New Year’s until the Brititsh brought this holiday with them during the Colonial time. Thus, traditions didn’t evolve as much. Nowadays, Kenyans eat lots of Nyama Coma, which is Swahili for “roast meat”. Nyama Choma is exactly that: roasted goat or beef meat, usually served with a side salad and a cornmeal porridge called ugali. People take the chance and socialize with their friends as they meet at big places in the cities and dance all the way through until midnight. After a countdown, cities lit fireworks to greet the New Year. Usually the parties don’t stop there, as Kenyans love parties. But honestly: who doesn’t?
Now, in Cambodia things are a little bit different. Usually Cambodians celebrate their New Year’s for solid three days. These three days are set in April though, since Cambodians follow the Gregorian Calendar. The Cambodian New Year, or what they call it “Choul Chnam Thmey”, marks the end of the traditional harvest season. But of course Cambodians have adapted to foreign tourists. At popular touristic cities you can easily find places that have New Year’s celebrations with fancy dinners, live entertainment and after-show parties with DJ’s. This way you don’t have to miss out on greeting the New Year.
One of the most popular traditions in Germany is called “Bleigießen”, which literally translates to “pouring lead”. It is an act of divination. A small piece of lead gets melted over a candle. As soon as it’s completely liquid, it gets tossed into a bucket of water. The lead immediately cools down, forming a weird shape. The new formed shape represents your future in the upcoming year. In 2018, lead became legally forbidden, because it is very unhealthy and bad for the environment. Instead people can buy either tin or wax.
After the big countdown, Germans roam the streets in order to enjoy the fireworks they single-handedly created themselves. It might not look as pretty as a well-organized fireworks made by the cities, but it is just as fun to light them up by yourself.
All that’s left to say is: Happy New Year, wherever you are!
Written by: Sophie Fritzen
Edited by: Robert Beahr