One second after midnight tonight, will anyone will be sorry to see 2020 end?
The day will change from Thursday to Friday, and one of the numerals we use to represent the year will change from 0 to 1. These are minor differences.
Nonetheless, we will celebrate these changes with grand outpourings of relief and hope. As we plug our ears to dull the roar of the fireworks, we’ll simultaneously toot a horn or beat a drum, creating still more of a racket. Is this a step back to primitive behaviour? Or is it just plain old fun?
Because of the need to socially distance there won’t be a lot of kissing and hugging, but once the noise dies down, our instinct to survive will manifest with resolutions to do better.
This New Year’s Eve especially, we’ll probably be glad the year is over. In Mexico, the fervent wish to chuck the old has given rise to a uniquely humorous (and noisy) custom.
Families decide on a figure that personifies their take on all that was wrong with the past year. Often it is a political figure (Donald Trump has been a popular choice the past four years) but 2020 provided us with an alternative. None other than the Corona virus.
Using any materials that are at hand, the figure that represents the Año Viejo is constructed with mischievous delight, and when it is done, it gets stuffed with old crumpled newspaper and firecrackers (sí, sí, sí – the extra noisy ones called, petardos) A way is found to make it stand or sit upright and usually it’s placed front and center, like a prisoner in the dock.
After the affectionate greetings at midnight, the Año Viejo is doused with some sort of flammable liquid and a match is struck. As the fire shoots higher, old and young step back – and tripping to the light fantastic – they hurl scathing epitaphs at the burning effigies.
Finally, once the secretly held pyromaniac urges have been locked back up, it’s time for the annual resolutions. These are all about survival, don’t you think? It seems that they speak to the universal need for some kind of control over what the Future holds in store.
The future is unknowable, and having no clue about what’s to come makes us feel unsafe, and we look for ways to take control. Maybe committing to positive changes could give us a feeling of security over the uncertain days to come.
Tonight at midnight, perhaps along with vowing to reclaim that youthful silhouette, reduce the intake of the Demon Rum, and wear off the tread of our Nikes, we could also promise to help right a few wrongs of global concern.
Pick a community initiative and donate your time or cash. Tutor children in English or computer skills – don’t know how to get more information about volunteering – ask on the facebook forums. Give 10 pesos to the woman and her child who are begging. Tip 10 pesos to the parking guys who are keeping your car safe. Give generous tips at restaurants because the wait staff are working reduced hours. Buy from local small businesses.
Enjoy this country where you have chosen to reside for all or part of each year. Focus on what you like about living here and be part of the solution. Do not get upset with the small stuff and be part of the problem.
Happy New Year!