Oh New Year’s Eve !
I was telling my friends that since I moved to Europe in 2008, one of the biggest cultural shifts for me was on how to celebrate the New Year’s.
In the Philippines, it’s all about the family. As it’s a week difference from Christmas, I had mostly spent it with my family in our place. We light our fireworks and join in a potluck dinner together with our neighbors. It’s all about the karaoke, the lechon (suckling pig) and the amounts of noodles to consume (eating noodles was supposed to bring you long life).
At home, I never spent New Year’s Eve with friends – it’s not that I don’t want to celebrate with them but rather they were also together celebrating with their own families.
When I moved to Europe, I noticed the difference. While Christmas is often spent with families, New Year celebrations are reserved to be with friends. It’s about the drinking, the dancing and the partying. Instead of insane amount of noodles, you get insane amounts of alcohol (not that I’m complaining 😉 )
And in the four years I’ve been here, with the exception of last NY eve spent with my mom, the rest was spent partying in Prague, Brussels and this year in Macedonia.
And my recent New Year’s Eve in Skopje was one for the books.
My trip to Macedonia didn’t start well. I was supposed to be in Macedonia for a 10-day trip for both Christmas and New Year, but I got sick at the beginning of my holidays and I had to stay in Brussels for an extra week.
And to add, I almost missed my flight after a long night out.
But luckily, I managed to still squeeze in a 3-day trip to Skopje.
I arrived in Skopje on the 30th of December and was welcomed by my Macedonian friend, Danco, and his family to their home with a dinner fitting the cliché “for a king”. After the big dinner, it was a bit of drinking and then off to rest.
As I’m only there for a couple of days, we had an early start in the morning of New Year’s Eve, and have spent the entire day going around Skopje.
But as the day turned into night, the preparations have set in. We got home, went for a short nap and started preparing for the long night ahead.
The night started with some food and drinks at Danco’s place. Together with his friends, we celebrated with food, wine and good share of Rakia – a staple liquor in the Balkans.
After the pre-drinks, we continued the night to a Kafana, a sort of bistro restaurant staple to the Balkan region. It started with a gracious serving of food – a food plenty of cheese, cold cuts for the starters and mouth-watering roasted pork for the main course. If there’s one thing that Macedonia does well, is with its meat roasting. 🙂
The place erupted at around 10.30pm when they started playing traditional Macedonian dances. We danced the Oro, resembling a circle dance. As one of the only foreigner-looking guy in the crowd, definitely there was some attention drawn to my dancing (unfortunately, I wasn’t too good).
It was criss-cross of dancing and eating – with a few involving dancing on top of the drums, and a lot of circling. And as one of the three Asians in the room, the DJ even played Gangnam style and of course, we became the star of the show.
The night continued until the wee hours of the morning and after plenty of eating, drinking and dancing – at around 4am we called it a night.
I like the fact that travel allowed me to discover new and fun ways to celebrate New Year’s. Looking forward to how I’ll celebrate it next year!
What are your favourite New Year celebration moments? Do share them in the comment box below!