Kiva Fellows: Kicking off 2011 Around the World

By Kiva Fellows, Various corners of the globe

Around the world, Kiva Fellows are celebrating the start of 2011 in all sorts of different ways. Here’s what some KF13-ers are doing to ring in the New Year.

Enjoy and Happy 2011!

Ellen Willems, Ecuador

Ecuadorians, as I was told, celebrate the coming of the New Year, and more importantly the going of the “Old Year” by making “monigotes”. These are dolls made of old clothes, stuffed with newspapers or sawdust and sometimes with fireworks as well. They have masks made of papier maché. The monigotes represent the “Viejo” or Old Year and all the bad things that happened during that year. On New Year’s Eve these monigotes are burnt in the streets.

New Year’s Eve, as well as Christmas, is a holiday that is mostly celebrated with family. And traditionally all the family members work together to make the monigotes. In San José de Chimbo, the small mountain village where I am currently living, a judge, accompanied by the local band, goes around town to look at all the monigotes and to select the three most original ones.

Cooperativa San José will close its doors early on Friday and kick off the New Year’s Eve festivities with an office party and its own monigote. I am sure that for me 2011 will start with a Big Bang because San José de Chimbo is known throughout the area as a mayor fireworks producer!

Ellen with monigotes at Cooperativa San José

Betsy McCormick, Colombia

Two fun Colombian traditions to speak of:

1. People in Medellin wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve because it’s supposed to bring good luck.

2. At midnight, people run around the block toting empty suitcases behind them. This is supposed to bring travel in the new year.

Abhishek Banerjee, Armenia

New Year’s Eve, similar to Christmas, is a holiday celebrated mostly with family. I have been told that generally, families get together for NYE to eat and drink. However, after midnight, many families then leave home and go visit their friends and neighbors, eat and drink some more and occasionally burst into dance. As a country that stays up into the late hours of the night quite often, this doesn’t surprise me.

On a side note, Armenians follow the Gregorian calendar and their Christmas falls on the 6th of January. As a result, 30th Dec – 10th Jan is basically the time off for all offices and banks. SEF will also be closed till the 10th of Jan.

Personally, I am taking this long break as an excuse to fly out to Europe and ring in the new year with some old friends!

Julie Shea, Bolivia

Bolivians typically eat New Years Eve dinner with their families, after which the young people head off to parties with their friends. At midnight they eat 12 grapes each, presumably to represent each month of the coming year. Echoing the Colombian traditions (above), many people will walk around the block with a suitcase, which is supposed to bring travel in the new year. The women wear red underwear if they want love in the new year, yellow underwear for money. At 6AM when the parties are ending, everyone goes out for Fricasé, a traditional pork dish.

Tara Capsuto, Kenya

Christmas and New Years is a time when many Nairobians pack into overcrowded taxi-vans and buses and head home to their villages – where they have their ancestral roots — to celebrate the festive season with family and friends.  Rising urbanization, especially over the last 30 years spawned the tradition of going home for the holiday. The capital city, renowned for terrible traffic, literally emptied out by December 24th. For both Christmas and New Years the tradition is to slaughter and roast a goat, which can be bought for 3,000Ksh ($37USD), or selected from the pasture for those families fortunate to have their own shamba (farm in Kiswahili).  I’ll be celebrating New Years in Zanzibar, Tanzania with some new friends!

Nick Hamilton, Dominican Republic

Dominicans celebrate New Year’s Eve in the same way that they celebrate Christmas, which is actually celebrated on Christmas Eve. It’s a time for families to get together and sit around a dinner table feasting on meat, rice, meat and more meat. Once they have seen in the New Year the young at heart will then go out and party until the early hours.

Having spent Christmas with my host family, I actually travelled to a beach resort called Cabarete with some friends and saw in the New Year there. We were a group of Argentinians, Italians, Dominicans and a Brit (that’s me) and so we actually celebrated New Year four different times for each country over a 5 hour period, which was lots of fun!

Amber Barger, Mongolia

Mongolians traditionally ring in the New Year during the last two weeks of December. Each evening, different organizations hold their annual New Year’s parties to celebrate achievements during the past year and to create a sense of motivation and community for the next year. Christmas and New Year celebrations are commonly thought to be the same holiday by many Mongolians. At New Year’s parties you’ll find Santa Claus and his scantily-clad snow girls playing silly games. The attendees will be charmed with an intertwining of live singing, dancing, and award –giving. All of this entertainment plus alcoholic beverages and dinner are included in the usual entry fee averaging anywhere from $25-85 USD per party. If you’re involved in many organizations, you’ll be expected to attend multiple New Year’s parties each year. Ladies are sure to wear their glittery dresses and men wear their nice suits or traditional deels.

On the actual New Year’s Eve, though, it’s a family affair, as it’s a common view that if you aren’t home with your family on New Year’s Eve, then you won’t be home for most of the next year. The President of Mongolia normally gives a speech around midnight and the family members gather around the television to watch this.

Santa and his elves

About the author