The Beginning of the New Year

International New Year’s Eve traditions

I got a visit from Paula between Christmas and New Year, another volunteer from Germany, who makes her EVS close to Lake Balaton. She told me she would go to Budapest for New Year’s Eve, meeting there with a few of the volunteers she met during her On-Arrival-Training, and invited me to come with her.

I didn’t have any other plans for New Year so I accepted with pleasure.

And so we travelled to Budapest together, on the last day of 2018, and wandered around in the city for a few hours, gaping at the amounts of people gathering in the capital for the turning of the year and marvelling about the Hungarian Silvester traditions.

Instead of lighting big fireworks, the Hungarians dress theirselves up, with colourful wigs, blinking devil-horns and more. You can also find lots of small party horns, and the sound level in the city rises a lot once the sun has set.

In the early evening Paula and I go to her acquaintances, a Spaniard and an Italian girl, living on the Buda side, opposite of the Parliament. A little later another Italian girl turns up and we start the last meal of the year: a columbian salad, vegetable rice, lenses (for riches in the new year) and small vegetable balls.

After dinner (where we already made a great many jokes about how “there is so much to eat, this will be enough to last till the end of the year”) and a small rest the two Italians used to style themselves up a little, we continue our journey to a couple of other volunteers on the Pest side, which whom we would spend the turning of the year. The streets were even fuller than during the afternoon and the silence of the flat of our new hosts a welcome change from the hooting outside.

Most of the other volunteers there are from Austria, but there were also two French girls and three girls from Brazil.

And partying with Brazilians is an experience in itself.

They are loud, happy, magically drawn to music and spreading a cheerful good mood.

Until Paula and I had met the Brazilians, the “this year is nearly over” feeling had been missing. When we made our way over to the parliament, to celebrate the beginning of the new year on the shore of the Danube, it was the crazy party mood of the Brazilians that finally gave me that feeling.

Funnily enough we met two other Brazilians where we waited for the Countdown, and they even shared their grapes with us after 2019 had started. Everyone got seven grapes, to ensure happiness, health, money and good mood for the upcoming year.

We continued partying for a little while longer, met a few Japanese guys and a girl from Sri Lanka along the way and I made my way back to Vereb in the early hours of the morning, which I reached when the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon.

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