Happy 2020 everyone! I love new beginnings and any reason to celebrate so this year I decided to kick off the new decade in two places that share my New Year enthusiasm! First stop, Colombia!
My good friend Carla works for the Colombia Bureau of Tourism. In exchange for translating their website and holiday travel campaign, she invited me to hop on down and check out their festivities for myself.
Once I arrived, our first stop was the nearest department store. Why you might ask? “We need to get you some yellow underwear Terpii!” Carla laughed.
“Underwear?” I croaked, “But I’m a frog!”
Carla told me that if I was going to celebrate New Year’s Eve the Colombian way, I was going to have to hop in on all the fun, even the kind spent in yellow underwear.
“Also Terpii, you’ll need a suitcase. I know you travel light so I will loan you one of my mine for the festivities!”
“Okay but do you have a frog sized one?” I laughed. Finally, on our way to Carla’s grandparents’ house, we picked up a bag of twenty-four green grapes
Right before midnight, we were ready to go with our yellow underwear on, our suitcases by the front door, and bowls filled with 12 grapes lined up on the table. Carla’s many cousins had built an “Año Viejo” or a life-sized doll that they planned to burn at midnight. The doll was made of their grandparent’s old clothes and a broom, representing the year which had just passed.
“Okay, here we go!” Carla announced as the clock struck midnight. With each chime we ate the twelve grapes. Then, all of a sudden, her whole family began running around the house sporting their yellow underwear. Once we ran through the house, we grabbed our suitcases and headed for the street. We circled the block once, and Carla cried out “Look how much good luck we are attracting with our yellow underwear and suitcases!”
“Is that what we are doing?” I cried out, as I hopped after her. “Yes! Each grape brings good luck to each upcoming month, yellow underwear brings success and the suitcases are for a year filled with travel!”
I laughed, “Fantastic! Although, I’m not sure I can travel anymore than I already do!”
Once we got back to her house, we watched while all the younger cousins lit old Año Nuevo on fire. Everyone clinked their drinks for a cheers, and I thanked Carla for such a unique experience. Next stop? China!
Chinese New Year is a bit later in the month, falling on January 25th, and luckily for me I had a translation assignment bringing me to the heart of it all. Hong Kong’s New Year celebration is not to be missed, with parades, fireworks and festive markets. Their Victoria harbor firework show is world class, with fireworks exploding into all sorts of shapes and colors. My client on this trip was an international hotel chain looking to purchase these hightech fireworks for their upscale locations around the United States and Europe. We often work together to translate and localize their website and online marketing, but today I would be helping them as in-person interpreter.
As I hopped to their hotel for the firework show, I passed through a fantastical parade of dragon dancers, acrobats, colorful floats, illuminated lanterns, glimmering beaded dancers and costumed lions. Once I reached the hotel rooftop, we all enjoyed the most amazing 10-minute firework show any of us had ever seen. Excited to buy the fireworks for their locations, I helped my client finalize the details of the contract right then and there. The firework distributor, Mr. Chu, insisted we all celebrate the fortuitous contract on New Year’s Day at the Hong Kong Sha Tin Racecourse.
The next morning, in the VIP Members Enclosure of the Sha Tin Racecourse, we were greeted by an assortment of red steamed glutinous rice cakes, black moss, dried oysters, sweet rice balls, and pig knuckles. “Gong hei fat choy!” everyone said as we entered the room. I turned to my client and translated, “In Cantonese, that means Happy New Year, or literally, wishing you happiness and prosperity!” Everyone smiled and tried their best to say it back.
Mr. Chu patted me on the back happily and said, “Please tell everyone to try our famous New Year’s cuisine, especially the dried oysters which bring good business!”
“Is this seaweed?” my client asked, pointing at the mysterious plate of food. Once Mr. Chu understood the question, I interpreted for them that “No, it’s actually a dried moss from the Gobi Desert. It brings much prosperity!”
“Great,” said my client, “I’ll need that today while betting on the horses!”
This has been one exciting month, I should have enough good luck to last me 8 lifetimes. I can’t wait to see where my next adventure takes me, so until next time friends!
PC1 Fabio Eckert
PC2 Caio Resende
PC4 Daniel Salazar
PC6 Raymond Ling
PC7 Shery Chen