Saturday, January 1, 2011

Old Year, New Year, Part II

There are a couple of Spanish New Year traditions I forgot to mention in my previous entry.  One of them, a pleasant, harmless tradition, is that people wear red for luck on New Year's Eve.  It does not have to be showing, but it is supposed to be there.  The supermarkets have big bins with special lucky red underwear, usually kept near the grapes.  People don't have to wear red underwear - some wear red pants, or sweaters, or dresses, but there is a lot of red going around on the night of December 31.  As for the origins of this tradition:  beats me.  I imagine that one year there was a huge harvest of red, and they had a surplus, and pushed it off on the people in this manner.  Some think this is ridiculous, and tell me red is not harvested.

Anyway, as to the second Spanish New Year's tradition, it is fireworks.  I'm not referring to the large, safe, municipal displays one sees around the world while watching the New Year's Eve spectacular shows.  I mean the nasty, loud, surprising, unsafe, DIY variety.  We had our New Year's Eve dinner with friends, watched the clock chime on TV, and then headed out to the car, carrying Ricky on my shoulder, at about 12:30 a.m.  Around us, a battle raged.  Children no larger than Ricky stood on balconies, launching rockets with cigarettes.  In the field behind the apartment buildings, larger displays were being lit, launched at the sides of the buildings, apparently in retaliation for the rockets from the balconies.  Surprising explosions roared from between cars, and brilliant flashes pierced the thick smoke.  Ricky, sound sleeper that he is, was only slightly disturbed.

When we got home, there were teenagers in the park in front of our house, wearing shiny wigs and lighting firecrackers.  Apparently, the Fourth of July safety films and proverbial lost fingers have not made it to Spain.  The explosions went on through the night, some sounding like they might be coming from our balcony.  It would have been disturbing, but we were already maximally disturbed.  Our neighbors, a couple who are in their mid-40s, spent the entire night reveling in the new year.  It was loud enough that conversation in my living room was difficult.  They listened to a live Foreigner album, they listened to early 80s hair rock, like Whitesnake.  They listened to it again.  They sang.  They would let the music stop, so that it seemed like the torment was over, and then start it up again, turning up the volume with excitement at hearing the next tune.  At 5:30 a.m., I decided that I had heard enough.  I got up, went to their door, and tossed in a grenade. 

Well, I did bang on the wall with great power.  It was successful.  The music stopped, the neighbors quieted, and we were finally able to sleep for a few hours.  Ricky had been able to sleep through all the noise and chaos, so he was able to start his day only a little later than he usually does, sleeping until 9 a.m., when I heard the cry:  "Daddy!"

Today, we will be taking it slow.


  1. Oh. My. Word. You have the neighbors from hell.

    I cant' remember which country it was, Panama or Honduras, where I experienced a similar kind of New Year's Eve. The smoke was so thick you could barley see or breathe. Fireworks are getting more and more popular on NYE here in S. Florida. Perhaps it's Latin influence.

  2. Our neighbors are really tiresome. 95 percent of the time, we don't see or hear them But a couple of times a month, they really just lose it.

    I know that in Mexico, they are also very fond of the fireworks.

  3. Happy New Year. Thought I'd share our New Year's tradition - a very Southern one - eating black-eyed peas for good luck! Wish you the best as you prepare to start your journey in January!

  4. Thanks so much, Anne! Best of luck on your journeys in the new year!