on that note I wish you and yours a Happy New Year! May your life be full of love laughter and happiness.
Below is a guest post by my dear friend, fellow expat and blogger Lyndon. He shares with us his thoughts on New Years Eve and some of the traditions that we grew up with in the country of our birth,Trinidad. You can follow Lyndon via his blog Man In A Bottle.
The more things change....
|Image courtesy Man In A Bottle|
I love New Year traditions in
London. From New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day
it seems as if the world has changed and is now filled with possibilities. In London it’s all about the New Year’s Eve tradition of
going into central with my friends to watch the fireworks over the river Thames, or partying in the hottest club all the way past the
midnight hour, to then slowly make my way home on the free London Transport
system. But the celebration doesn't end there because there is the New Year’s
Day Parade. It is the best feeling waking up to a cold winter’s morning and
making my way to Whitehall and Trafalgar Square to see the annual New Year’s
Day parade. It’s become a tradition to stand in the cold waiting patiently to
view the American high schools and universities marching bands. The air seems
alive with the sounds of brass bands and the cries of cheerleaders shouting “Happy
Holidays”. The parade itself is a mixture of the traditional and the quirky
with cartoon character floats and the pearly king and queen representing the
boroughs, a fleet of classic cars, juggling and bumbling clowns and the
via Shannon and Wylder Laffoon on Pinterest
This whole way of celebrating the New Year is such a marked contrast to my more sedate/religious/superstitious/traditional celebration in
Trinidad, many of which are a direct influence and
consequence of our colonial history. Our tiny islands have been fought over won
and lost by the then great colonial powers of old, the French, the Spanish and
finally the English (they won). We have also have centuries of migration,
forced and voluntary, with each race bringing with them their own traditions.
So today as it stands Trinidad
and Tobago’s culture is defined by a
patchwork of all these cultural influences and maturations. For a long time there
was no public midnight partying except for private house parties. Public
fireworks display has only been a recent event within the last twenty years and
there is definitely no public transport. In my family New Years Eve traditions
dictates that we cook and eat black eye peas. A dish that is said to bring good
luck and prosperity for the new year (this is an African influence) though
recent research also indicate that it is a tradition also found at Rosh Hashana,
the Jewish New Year, in the Jewish community and the southern Unites States.
Usually just before or on the stroke of midnight we would open all the windows and doors in the house to let the new year in and usher the old one out removing bad luck from the past. I’m not sure if it’s just my family that does this or other people in the country but I’ve also found out that this is a tradition also found in the Chinese culture for Chinese New Year. In the last 5 – 8 years Trinidad has seen a huge rise in immigration from
South Asia. And, as in times gone before, the general
population absorbs this new cultural influx into the proverbial crucible so
that it becomes a melting pot that bubbles and boils dangerously beneath the
surface always threatening to bubble over before settling down into something
new. So who knows maybe there will be more doors and windows opening to let in
The final of the New Year Eve traditions at home is the offering of libation to the ancestors. This is also usually done at midnight and poured at the four corners of the house. In my home this libation consisted of getting clean and pure as possible drinking water. Libation can also consist of an alcoholic drink though my family isn’t a family of drinkers so I don’t think our ancestral spirits would mind water instead of a nip of the brandy. In the generation before my own the dead and the living walked side by side. Death is part of life and something that through religion and culture teaches us that the body may be gone but the spirit still lives on. This is a belief found in almost every race, creed and subculture in the land. As a consequence many people engage in this practice though the rituals that may go along with it have disappeared from memory or general knowledge the act still remains after all no one wants to anger the spirits. Today’s generation no longer believe in this. Blame it on better education, neo colonialism, growing worldwide cynicism or the lack of spirituality in modern life. Whatever it is, the tradition of pouring libations for the ancestors is waning.
via Shannon and Wylder Laffoon on Pinterest
For me I’m glad I can choose and combine both traditions and make them my own so whether I’ll be heading out to the clubs, stepping outside before midnight to “accidently” spill my drinks to the ancestral spirits with a wink or staying at home to eat black eye peas here wishing you all a Happy New Year.