New Year’s Eve Traditions

Every culture has its own celebratory traditions that are recognized respectively throughout the entire year, but the old-age tradition of closing out an old year while simultaneously preparing to enter into a new one is universal. New Year’s Eve will always be a day in which traditions are honored, memories are most cherished, and resolutions are most appreciated. Thousands may flock to Times Square in New York City to watch the ball drop with a traditional countdown, and countless others may choose to watch the ball drop on television in a more intimate environment surrounded by friends and family. From extravagant aerial displays to bizarre customary group practices, each of us from around the globe will welcome in the new year in a variety of ways.

In Spain, a New Year’s Eve tradition which guarantees the gathering of many patrons at the main squares involves quickly eating one grape at each stroke of the clock at midnight. It is believed to bring good luck to each month for every grape that is consumed. The celebration continues into the wee hours of the morning with plenty of cava passed around. In Columbia and Mexico, it is not uncommon to see patrons running around the block with an empty suitcase at the stroke of midnight. This tradition is performed as a way to bring more travel opportunities. The skies over France will light up with a spectacular display of fireworks at the stroke of midnight, and many will propose a toast using champagne, white wine, or hot wine vin chaud.

Although the above traditions all seem reasonably normal to most of us, Latin America has its own unique idea of what is considered the norm. The “burning of the dummies”, traditionally performed in Ecuador,
adds a unique twist to their holiday tradition of fireworks as spectators witness thousands of colorful human dummies engulfed in flames and filling the skies with smoke. Denmark is not far behind the uniqueness bandwagon of bringing in the new year with their tradition of jumping off chairs in unison at midnight, which is said to be able to rid the person of any negative spirits, therefore bringing good luck into the new year. And if that is not unique enough, throwing old dishes at their friends’ houses at the stroke of midnight also signifies that person has many friends and will bring many more to come during the upcoming months.

Regardless of what custom we honor to celebrate our New Year’s Eve, our traditions carry with them priceless memories that are symbolic in nature, performed sincerely within our beliefs, and statutory in a lifelong recurring pattern of a 365-day cycle of wishes for a rejuvenated life ahead.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Violence-101: A Syllabus of Higher Awareness

Violence is, and always will be, that uncensored part of human existence to which we are all subjected to becoming exposed to it in one form or another; either as perpetrator, victim, or spectator. For those who have suffered violent acts at the hands of their attackers, there’s a road to recovery for them that seems optimistic for some survivors and yet exasperating for some. Over the past few years, there have been numerous repetitive situations of violence involving a generation that retains a monstrous amount of uncontrollable rage, with their focal point being a desire to strike fear into the hearts of innocent onlookers in one of our most highly regarded traditional environments: our schools.

On December 13, 2013, Karl Pierson opened fire at his school, the Arapahoe High School located in Centennial, Colorado, critically wounding a 17-year old student before killing himself. Originally, detectives had several leads as to a possible motive for the gunman’s violent rampage, however, the most reliable source of information would have to come from the person themselves.

Prior to this incident also in the state of Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered the Columbine High School located in Littleton to carry out a terroristic massacre that resulted in 15 deaths before both students turned their guns onto themselves. Both suspects left a trail of clues for detectives to decipher the meaning behind this premeditated killing spree with all of their conclusions directing towards the most obvious cause: mental illness.

Both of the above cases, as disturbing as they may be, seems to point to an even bigger issue with youths who suffer from incurable psychological illnesses that, if left ignored, can alter one’s perception of reality in the most tragic of ways. It’s sad when youths turn to violence as a solution for the pain and rejection they feel for not being deemed as “normal”, for so many innocent bystanders have had to have their lives ended without warning or defense. It is time for society to stop brushing this issue under the rug and start taking into consideration the innocent blood that is continuously being shed among the students of our educational institutions.

©2013 Learus Ohnine