2 January 2014

New Year

We had a wonderful New Year – spending the evening of 31 December with friends before togging up to brave the cold Astana winter to enjoy Champagne and Fireworks in the snow.  We spent New Year’s Day with another group of friends enjoying a champagne brunch at a local hotel. 

I started to think about New Year traditions and how we celebrate and I realised that although we have a set of Christmas traditions that we keep wherever we are (we often postpone Christmas celebrations to another day if we are unable to enjoy our traditional Christmas when we are travelling) our New Years have been as variable as there have been celebrations.

When I was a child, growing up in Norway we would congregate with friends for house-parties similar to this most recent New Year.  In Nigeria the whole camp would gather together in the club house – the adults moving from group to group enjoying conversation, Guinness and Star Beer while the children played games and went swimming, when it was all over the family groups would separate to walk home through the balmy tropical air watching fireflies dance along the way.  

In Turkey we would also gather at the club to dance to a mix of Turkish and western music, just before midnight our Turkish friends would douse the lights and sing a very touching traditional song about a detachment of soldiers sent to fight (and die) the Yemen in the first world war.  I do not know whether this is a Turkish tradition or not but we found it very beautiful.

Other years we would have a quiet celebration at home with only the close family watching fireworks from around the world on the television and a long walk on New Year’s day.  One year we took in a show in London before running back to the car and driving back home to see in the New Year with my parents, quite bizarre to have seen the preparations for the fireworks and the mounting crowds and then seeing the main event on TV, much more comfortable than standing in a cold crowd.  My husband’s family do keep a tradition every year called ‘First Foot’.  One of the males has to leave the house before midnight, after the year turns he will knock on the door and be invited in, he will bring a lump of coal to the house to symbolise good fortune for the year ahead. 

The exigencies of expat life  mean that people move on to new adventures so every year is different, even if we stay in the same place there are different people to celebrate with.  I have no idea where we will celebrate New Year next year and whether it will be with a large group, with close friends or just family but the wonderful thing about New Year is that it is a fresh new start.  I wish everyone reading a very happy and prosperous New Year and good luck for the 12 months ahead. 

Click on the picture for more posts on the challenges of expat life.

Ersatz Expat


  1. Hi, I really like your article. I will keep coming here, Thanks for this post.

    1. Thanks Mandy - look forward to seeing you around!

  2. Lovely reminisces. I hope that your next few New Years add even more pleasant memories from around the world!

    1. Thanks Celia - one guarantee of expat life is that it is never dull!