Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

All around the world, people are preparing to ring in the New Year in their own special way. In most cultures, people spend the evening wishing for good things in the year ahead. Some will drink champagne, others will make (and quickly break!) resolutions, some will wear a certain color to attract love or money, and others will eat a special dish to bring good fortune all year long.

In my family, my dad follows the New Year's tradition of cooking up some steaming Hoppin' John Soup and sometimes a batch of cooked cabbage on New Year's Day for a little extra luck. Other good southerners may substitute collard greens or kale for the cabbage. In Spain, people traditionally wish for luck by eating 12 grapes on New Year's Eve, one for each chime as the clock strikes midnight. This tradition is also carried on in many Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico. Ecuador, however, has it's own unique celebration every December 31st.

La Catedral de la Inmaculada ConcepciĆ³n in Cuenca, Ecuador

I had the pleasure of visiting Ecuador when I was in high school. I participated in a 5 week study abroad program arranged by one of my high school Spanish teachers. I stayed with a host family and learned about the local culture. During a discussion about holiday celebrations, my friend Hernan described how some people in Ecuador start the new year fresh by burning effigies that symbolize undesireable things from the past year. Often these straw dolls are adorned with masks of politicians or other infamous popular figures. The word on the street in Cuenca is that President Correa is the most sought after mask this year.

Night-time view of Cuenca.

How will you celebrate the New Year? Does your family have any special traditions? However you choose to ring in 2010, I hope it is a happy and prosperous year for all!

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