Saturday, December 31, 2016

5 Unusual Ways to Spend New Year's Eve

Are you tired of stressing out trying to find something awesome to do on NYE and need some inspiration?  Why not do something a little out of the ordinary and check out some of the weird and wonderful events taking place across the globe.

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Madrid, Spain:
Why not hop a flight to the Spanish capital, hitch a ride to Puerta del Sol and spent Nochevieja (NYE) in the company of Cava drinking, grape eating Spaniards? All you need is twelve grapes, to be consumed one by one by the chimes of the clock counting down to midnight, and the ability to fiesta all night and you'll fit right in.  

The tradition comes from the belief that eating grapes on New Year's Eve will bring you a year of health and happiness. Also: this will totally start you off on the right foot on January 1st by covering one of your 5 a day, no?    Eating healthy in 2017: check!  

The street party is not just limited to Madrid, however, there's also a massive party held in the Plaza de Cataluyna Square in Barca, where even more Spaniards join together for the Twelve Grapes and to celebrate the coming of the New Year. 

12 Grapes, Spanish New Year
I prefer them when they're squashed in to liquid, but I could manage 12.

Allendale Tar Barrel Festival, Northumberland:
The village of Allendale is generally a quiet and peaceful place, but come New Year's Eve and all hell breaks loose.   No, really.   The men of the town have been keeping up the tradition of "Tar Barl' for the past 160 years, in which they wander down the high street at midnight, in fancy dress, with barrels on their heads.   And the barrels?  Well, they're on fire...obviously.   

It's certainly a novel way to keep warm on a Winter's night.   I hope the men take proper precautions so as not to roast their chestnuts.  

Fire Festival, Allendale
I am the God of Hellfire and I bring you....
Quito, Ecuador:
On the 31st December each year, the good people of Ecuador get together to set stuff on fire.   Why, I hear you ask?   Well, why not?  The townsfolk head out into the streets, armed with dummies representing famous faces, politicians, their mother in laws, etc, and proceed to douse them in whatever kind of accelerant (petrol?? tequila??) one would use for such a ceremony.    

It is a widely held belief that the symbolic gestures will bring you good luck for the year ahead and, let's face it, anything's worth a shot.    I know I'm not short of a person or two I'd like to set fire to (not literally, obviously) at the stroke of Midnight.

Ecuador Festival, New Year
Burn 'em...burn 'em all..
Comanesti, Romania:
The Dance of the Bear is a traditional festivities that take place across the former Soviet State on New Year's Eve.  Romanian Gypsies dress up in bear skins (mostly fake now...damn animals and their moaning about not being shot and worn at NY) and wander round the streets in the festival of Ursul.  

Bears are thought of as a sacred protector in Romania and the wearing of their skins is to ward off evil spirits for the year ahead. A procession of 'bears' take to the streets and celebrate the passing of the old year into the new.  
I imagine they don't walk too far, though....who needs to be carrying all the extra weight?  Still, I imagine it's quiet the terrifying spectable if you just happen to rock up at New Year and had no idea it was all going on.   OMG BEARS...BEARS EVERYWHERE!

Dance of the Bear, Romania
I'm sorry, you want to do what now?  Yeah, no, totally not going to happen. 

Stonehaven, Scotland:
Man, there's a lot of fire starting around the world on NYE and my home nation is not one to be left out, no Ma'am.  We don't be setting fire to puppets OR any barrels of tar, no - we like to swing large fireballs around our heads.   Because, when else in the year can you get away with this without someone calling the Police?    OK, so maybe in Greenock, but certainly not anywhere else.   

The aptly named Fireball Ceremony will leave no one in any doubt about the premise of the night, so I suggest you check out your nearest assembly points and dig out your high vis jacket well in advance.     

The actual firebally flinging thingy starts at 12pm, but if you want to see it in all its glory, best get to Aberdeenshire before 11pm.   You don't want to miss out on catching fire now, do you?   I jest, of course, it is a very well organised and very safe event.   Also: Stonhaven is a beautiful little coastal village, so if you DO catch fire, you're really close to the sea.    Result!

Fire, New Year
The remains of Stonehaven from last year's Festival.  

As for me, I won't be doing any of these things because I'll be having a drink with LT in the comfort of my lounge because I'm way too introverted to do any of the things I've written about.... 

What are you getting up to on NYE?  Whatever it is, I hope you have a great night!

Suzanne x

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