Exploring the customs that usher in the New Year. Part lll

| January 31, 2015
Social and Cultural Anthropologist and contributor Scherin Barlow-Massay

Social and Cultural Anthropologist and contributor Scherin Barlow-Massay

Historical commentary. In Suriname, homes are given an extra special cleaning that must be completed before the New Year begins. This is done so that the spirit of the New Year can enter a clean house.

On Old Year’s Night the Surinamese Creole’s (the mixed descendants of West African slaves, Europeans and the other ethnicities that populate Suriname) have two baths. The first is done with plantain leaves and is symbolic of washing out the spirit of the old year.

The second bath is made with sweet smelling incense and flowers, which is an invitation for all good things to happen in the ensuing year. It is customary that before midnight a silver coin is placed outdoors and when it is brought inside again, that action represents bringing prosperity to the year.

There was also a cake baking frenzy when egg sponge cakes (Eski CowCow) were baked before the New Year. For those who did not have their own ovens, the mixture was taken to the bakers to be baked.

When finished the cake was ceremoniously carried back home. Another custom was staying awake for the New Year, everyone except babies had to be awake to welcome in the New Year. Those who slept on the cusp of the New Year would miss out on the good fortune that the New Year brought.

Apart from the normal western celebrations, in St Lucia, where Catholicism is the main religion, New Year’s Day is viewed as a Holy Day and many Catholic people usher in the New Year by going to Mass. Those living in the country-side and who do not have access to fireworks cut the tops of bamboo wood and insert kerosene into it. When lit it would explode, with a loud bang.

Typical Surinamese New Year's ritual. Photo courtesy www.dewest-online.com

Typical Surinamese New Year’s ritual. Photo courtesy www.dewest-online.com

In many parts of the world people believe that the actions taken on Old Year’s Night, the stroke of midnight or New Year’s Day will influence the coming year. This is also true in the African Diaspora where many African traditions have survived and fused with European customs.

Nonetheless, many of the actions performed to celebrate the New Year are shrouded in superstitious and religious beliefs which over time have become secularised but can be traced back to the mysticism of ancient Babylon.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: African Caribbean, Anguilla News, Antigua News, Bahamas News, Barbados News, British Virgin Islands News, Culture & Society, Dominica News, Grenada News, Guyana News, History, How Caribbean R U?, Jamaica News, Lifestyle, Martinique News, Montserrat News, St Vincent and the Grenadines News, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia News, St. Maarten News, Trinidad News

About the Author (Author Profile)

We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.

Comments are closed.