Not the same Auld Lang Syne – Sunshine residents discover new ways to ring in the New Year.
For all the diverse ways we Americans celebrate Christmas, our approach to welcoming the New Year is pretty straight forward: a champagne toast, dance to Auld Lang Syne with someone you’re fond of, then give them a hug and kiss after counting down to midnight. Maybe throw in some noisemakers for good measure. But in other parts of the world, things get a little more interesting, unpredictable and, well, curious.
In Scotland, for example, New Year's Eve is actually a three-day celebration known as Hogmanay. Highlights include revelers holding torches to create a "river of fire" through the streets, accompanied by marching pipers and drummers. After a couple of nights of ceilidhs (parties with lively music and lots whiskey) brave people in Edinburgh take part in the Loony Dook, a costumed, polar-plunge event in the Firth of Forth just outside the city.
In Denmark, the great Danes hold on to chipped dishes and glasses all year, then go out on New Year's Eve and smash them against the front doors of their friends and neighbors. The more shards you have on your doorstep the next morning, the more popular you are. They also climb on top of chairs and literally “jump” into the New Year to bring good luck.
In Spain, Spaniards get the year off to a healthy start by eating 12 grapes, one for each stroke of midnight. In Ecuador, they burn paper filled scarecrows at midnight. Similarly, in Panama, they consider it good luck to burn effigies of everyone and anyone who is famous. And in Switzerland, they celebrate the New Year by dropping ice cream on the floor. Don’t ask why.
We could go on and on with the unusual traditions. But we’d rather tell you about how many of Sunshine’s communities are actually celebrating the New Year vicariously in many different cities and countries.
Starting on the east coast, Creekside Pines in Dallas, Georgia will give residents a good reason to stay up late. At 10:00 EST, they will have a party with an end-of-the-year slideshow. And they’ll top off the festivities by watching the Peach Drop at midnight, a Georgia tradition.
In Pharr, Texas, at 6:00 pm CST (midnight in London and Casablanca), Independent Living residents from Brook Ridge will be gathering for a dinner with Assisted Living and Memory Care residents from The Gardens at Brook Ridge. Then they’ll both party until 9:00 pm (midnight in Brazil). The Gardens at Brook Ridge will continue the celebration on January 1 with a New Year's Day luncheon.
Out on the left coast, Summerfield Estates in Tigard, Oregon offers the piece de resistance for 2017 with a French-style Dessert Social at 3:00 pm on New Year's Eve (midnight in Paris).
At 5:00 pm PST, Villa Serena in Santa Clara, California hosts a special dinner with live entertainment, wine and champagne. Residents will dress up and wear silly hats during a retrospective slideshow of photos from 2017. The evening ends with a sparkling apple cider toast at 9:00 pm PST (midnight in New York City).
Finally, on New Year’s Day, residents of Windsor Heights in Beachwood, Ohio will be rejoicing the New Year with a Sing-along. And Hammond Glen in Sandy Springs, Georgia will also celebrate with a live band at lunch.
Of course, the New Year’s lunch at Hammond Glen, like other Sunshine communities, will leave residents comfortably satisfied. Unlike the country of Estonia, where most residents will maintain the tradition of eating seven full meals on New Year’s Day – some will even eat nine or twelve – to assure abundance and strength throughout the year ahead. Sounds like more of their residents will be on strict diets for the rest of the year than ours.
How ever you choose to ring in the New Year, we hope 2018 is a happy and healthy one for you and your family.
This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, December, 2017.