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Burning of the Old Year

By Angel Nuñez

On December 31, 2012 at Central Park, I was emceeing the official Countdown for the New Year 2013 and I commented that New Year’s Eve was the perfect time to make some reflections of how things went in our lives.  Those things which did not work well for us should be trashed.  Along the same line, those things which worked well for us should be cherished, and built upon during the new year.  So if you cheated on your wife or your fiancé and it brought some measure of discontentment and problems in your life, you should opt to stop that foolishness and try to make amends with your loved one. If for example you have built a poor relationship with your boss or colleagues at your workplace, you can also choose to at the end of the year and commencement of the New Year to apologize, regain confidence and press on to a better and healthy relationship.

Years ago in San Pedro the married couples had a special dance for New Year’s Eve where only married couples could attend.  Earlier that day the folks had built an effigy or dummy of an old man using an old pair of pants and shirt stuffed with seaweed or grass and a carved coconut for its face. Just before midnight of December 31, the dummy was burnt to symbolize the going away of the old year and the trashing or burning up of all unwanted things and habits in the lives of the San Pedranos. Silently the folks did their reflections and made their wishes, and also made resolutions for the New Year just commencing. As the dummy was being consumed by the fire, the folks gathered around it drinking, dancing, and celebrating the fact that they were getting rid of the many unwanted things that happened in San Pedro and in their lives.

This was most definitely a tradition that was anticipated with much excitement and it became a focus of this annual celebration. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to incorporate this tradition that has died throughout the years into the Countdown celebration for the New Year now held at Central Park.  This could certainly be another attraction that our tourists could delight and participate in that is different from Time Square and unique to San Pedro, Corozal and Orange Walk where this tradition still goes on.  Old traditions and new traditions can certainly intertwine to give us one beautiful celebration.  A Happy New Year 2013 to all the avid readers of this column, Years Ago in San Pedro.

Note:  Please note that the column “Twenty Five Years Ago” has now been officially changed to “Years Ago in San Pedro” now in its 22nd year. Your continued interest is the inspiration of the writer.

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