Commentary: Celebrating the new year in Canada: a new experience

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

The holiday break just ended and students have returned to school. Many went home and enjoyed time with their families. However, some students had different plans for the month of December.

I’m from Brazil and this was my second break away since I came to Canada two years ago. I can’t deny it’s hard to be away from home during such a family-oriented season. A few days before Christmas, I travelled to Montreal but I spent New Year’s Eve in Fredericton. Although I don’t have much to complain about, I missed my family, my friends and the traditions of my home country.

The shift between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 affected me the most. During my first New Year’s away from home, my roommate took me to her friend’s house. This year I was back in Fredericton and all I did was play video games and had dinner at a restaurant. Both occasions were lovely, but it wasn’t like how Brazilians do it back home. We have the tradition of wearing clothes in the colours of what we want for ourselves the coming year. If you want money, you wear yellow, if you want love, you wear red – and most of us wear white because we all want peace. There are always crowds of people wearing white at the beach, where everyone watches concerts of famous singers and then fireworks light up the night sky as the clock strikes midnight. I would have jumped on a plane just to be back home for a few hours if I could.

Fortunately I wasn’t the only one who stayed in Fredericton. Clotilde de Villenaut is an exchange student at St. Thomas and spent her New Year’s Eve away from France.

“In France we don’t really have any tradition except for the countdown and we usually have good food such as smoked salmon or foie gras on a toast,” she said.

de Villenaut said in France, people celebrate by throwing parties with their friends, so this year she went to a friend’s house in Montreal to celebrate. She and her friend went to Old Montreal to watch the fireworks, an event de Villenaut doesn’t get to be a part of every year.

“The fireworks in France are [only in the] big cities, but as I live in the countryside, I really enjoyed seeing them in Montreal,” she said.

Although we didn’t get to celebrate among our families in our home countries, we got to enjoy new experiences. Seeing fireworks or staying at home, partying all night or going to resorts doesn’t matter. At the end of the year staying with the loved ones is what really counts.

And sticking to the New Year’s resolutions, of course.


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