Sunday, January 1, 2012

Feliz Año!!

Another New Year Eve in Chiclayo, and though I’ve become accustomed to the traditions associated with it they are still fascinating to me. The wearing of new yellow underwear; taking a shower in yellow flower petals; eating twelve grapes at exactly midnight – all are customs intended to insure good luck in the new year. Chiclayanos take these traditions very seriously – some I’ve talked with indicated they would feel ‘at risk’ during the coming year had they skipped any of them. I don’t share those beliefs but will admit that I wear new yellow underwear and eat twelve grapes at midnight. I figure it can’t hurt. But I don’t do the flower shower thing… it’s too much trouble to clean up afterwards.

My favorite part of the evening starts at about 11:45pm. That’s when the muñecos start appearing on the streets along with an early sporadic fusillade of fireworks. Over the next thirty minutes the sound of fireworks builds to a constant roar making conversation on the streets impossible. At midnight the muñecos are set ablaze and the streets quickly resemble infernos.

Something new for me this year was seeing these men launch a balloon. I’m told its common practice but this is the first time I’ve seen it. It’s really fascinating to watch. As I understand it the balloon, which can be purchased where fireworks are sold, is made of paper. The heat source is a cylinder of tightly rolled fabric saturated with wax.

I had expected to see it either burst into flames or plummet to the ground. It didn’t do either. It slowly kept climbing and drifting to the north, until after some ten minutes it was indistinguishable from the surrounding stars. All during our meal I wondered to myself how high that balloon had gotten; how far it traveled, and where it finally came down after the torch had burned out.

By 12:15 street festivities are mostly over. The muñecos are piles of smoldering ashes, fireworks have ceased and the streets are empty. People are inside eating their New Year dinner. The final part of the celebration for many Chiclayanos after the meal is to either go dancing somewhere until about 5:00am, or head for the beach at Pimentel to watch the sun rise. Brian and some of his friends went to Pimentel. He got in at 8:30 this morning. I don’t do 8:30 in the morning.



  1. Happy New Year, Tom! May you have a wonderful year, and here's hoping it brings you all the best. :)

    The fireworks here in my part of Lima went on for the bigger part of an hour. We always joke that Chile must be attacking ;)

  2. Feliz año nuevo, Tom.

    This was my first New Year's Eve in Peru and I also wrote about it, in my blog

    Thank you for explaining the grapes - I saw them everywhere but had no idea of their meaning!

  3. Kelly – back at you on wishes for a great 2012. Sorry I missed you on my last visit to Lima. Guess what one of my resolutions was for this year.:)

    Annie – welcome, and Happy New Year to you. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog.