Aug 13, 2012 13:01 - holly | 1,544 views
Every country has got its own traditions and rituals (especially for the holidays) and it would seem the further away from Europe you go, the more unusual they get. Influenced by quaint customs and rituals from religions known and spread across the world it is usually Christmas we take as an example when it comes to differences in holiday traditions across our globe, however New Year’s Eve is also notably varied depending on where you are.
Many people like to escape for the holidays at this time of the year. Some migrate to a warmer climate, perhaps on a Caribbean cruise where they can experience 5 star luxury and have a night to remember seeing in the new year underneath the stars (maybe even fireworks) on the top deck of a ship. Others may head to the Alps to have a traditional Christmas card experience in the snow.
However, if you’re after something truly different and oozing with tradition, culture, and festivity, the Peruvian city of Arequipa, also known as La Ciudad Blanca (the white city) might be just the place for you.
During the weeks leading up to December 31st, when one year’s burdens come to an end and a fresh year is about to start, you will notice a gradual change of the color scheme displayed in the streets of the shiny, white city. Day by day little spots of yellow begin to appear, tainting the many alleyways and main plaza.
The reason for this is that throughout the modern history of this third-world country, superstitious residents have put their faith in rituals that are supposed to ensure them luck, health and good fortune for the future.
One of these practices involves the color yellow, which reflects the sun’s brightness and the optimism that will surely rub off on you when you carry (or even better wear) an item in this light spectrum of the rainbow. This is why it counts as lucky if you are wearing bright yellow underpants when the clock strikes midnight. If you go against this charming tradition be prepared for a bucket of bad fortune to come your way. During the count down revelers will flash their yellow items to everyone they meet so as to re-enforce their luck and enhance the vibes of good fortune.
This is not the only unusual practice around New Year’s in Arequipa. Another enchanting tradition is the life-like puppets that the city’s inhabitants fashion out of their old clothes. After each family or family member has created their own doppelganger out of garments, they write a letter in which they confess the events in their lives over the past year which have made them unhappy and the areas of their lives that they want to see change for the better. The letter is then folded up and tucked either into a shirt-pocket or sleeve on the doll.
When the ghostly hour starts, the families gather on the roads in front of their houses and set light to the puppets in a blazing fire of desire, hope and wishful thinking. The next morning, the bodies and ashes of the burnt dolls cover the streets of the white city and mark the finale of a year past and celebrate the virgin year which lies ahead.
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