Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
By: Ria Jethi
In Spain they gorge on grapes, in Iceland they’re glued to the telly and in Chile they guzzle spoonfuls of lentils while the Colombians and Peruvians, have taken to burning effigies that represent the worst aspects of the previous year. These are just some of the traditions that herald the new year around the globe.
Millions of revellers across the world celebrated the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Let’s take a sneak peek at how the world welcomed 2012 with fervor.The South Pacific islands of Samoa and Tokelau were the first to see 2012 after skipping a day by jumping west across the international dateline. The change effectively erased Friday 30 December 2011 from their calendars. In Brazil, celebrators were all set to enjoy a fireworks display on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
A mere 11 hours ahead of Britain, Australia hosted the first of the several spectacular celebrations across the globe. Sydney’s fireworks had the theme “Time to Dream”, which producer Aneurin Coffey said was about giving people a chance to put a bad year behind them.The crowd watched the pyrotechnics around Sydney Harbour Bridge, which were accompanied by a medley of wild animal sounds and pop music.Some of the fireworks resembled waterfalls, rainbows and clouds – which Mr Coffey said was “because every cloud has a silver lining”. Up to 1.5 million Sydneysiders were outside, Frosties in hand, to watch the fireworks near their city’s opera house.Once the Aussies stopped the celebrations, there indeed a bot of a lull.
Filipinos, eight hours ahead of Britain, threw money in the air for good luck at midnight – but most of east Asia was seen saving their energy for the lunar new year celebrations in February. Spaniards were busy bolting down grapes – one for every stroke of midnight. Every grape stands for a New Year’s resolution; if you don’t guzzle, the wish won’t come true.In Iceland a staggering number of people had just been watching something called Áramótaskaupið(the New Year’s comedy), a satirical review of the country’s last 12 months. The show is known to attract more than 90% of Iceland’s television audience.
In Colombia and Peru, revellers wear yellow underwear if they want happiness in the new year; red if they’re after love. In Brazil, locals wear white and throw flowers into the sea; in Cuba, they throw water out of windows. A multi-million dollar firework display that welcomed the new year was seen in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which was illuminated by dazzling fireworks in Dubai.Celebrations were held across Europe, with some 250,000 gathering to watch fireworks over the River Thames in London.
In Times Square in New York, crowds watched Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Lady Gaga count down to midnight.The traditional ball, lit this year with 30,000 lights, descended a high pole as the New Year began.In Tokyo, people released helium balloons in front of the Tokyo Tower at midnight with notes attached- listing their hopes for 2012.Many wished for a better year, following the earthquake and tsunami that brought devastation to the north-east of Japan in 2011.
Days after the death of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, the authorities issued a New Year message urging people to support his son and successor, Kim Jong-un. A not so encouraging tone was reflected in the new year’s message of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said 2012 would be more difficult than 2011, but hoped Europe’s debt crisis would bring its member states closer.In a televised message marking the start of a year of elections in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy, issued a similar warning, but tried to remain as upbeat as possible.For his part, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who started his second term on Sunday, said he hoped the new year would continue the move towards democracy that protesters had started during the so-called Arab Spring in 2011.
From New Zealand to New York, the world eagerly welcomed a new year Sunday and hoped for a better future, saying goodbye to a year of hurricanes, tsunamis and economic turmoil that many would rather forget.Doomsday or no doomsday, we did gladly say ”Welcome 2012”!