Thursday, 10 January 2013

True Or False: Six New Year Themed 'Facts' From Around The World

New Year Celebrations: Pregnant pranks, smashing guitars and insect roulette...

One of my favourite things in the world which I like doing more than anything else is travelling and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to experience New Year celebrations in England, Scotland, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam and Fiji.

So following on from my previous True Or False posts for Halloween and Christmas, here’s another True Or False quiz featuring traditions from round the world to celebrate the new year.  Just to clarify, some of these ‘facts’ are true but others are totally made-up.  See if you can guess which is which...

Guitars beware.  Prepare for a smashing time at a Fijian New Year.

Fact 1) Fiji – Lock up your guitars!

In Fiji the locals have the strange but fun tradition of smashing up a guitar (rock star style) to see in the New Year.  If you don’t want to destroy your precious guitar (or if you’re a tourist who forgot to pack a guitar in your backpack) then you can buy miniature sized guitars purely for the purpose of smashing up.  I decided to join in with the local custom when I was in Fiji for New Year and I have to say it was a lot of fun and very satisfying to re-enact the classic guitar smashing ritual.

The practise of guitar smashing to see in the New Year is said to have originated on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu, but nowadays the tradition is practised all over Fiji including on the main island of Viti Levu.

True or false?

Fact 2) Tanzania – Prank a pregnant woman!

In Tanzania they celebrate the New Year by playing pranks on each other, much like April Fool’s Day in the UK.  It is believed to be especially good luck to play a joke on a pregnant mother, with this luck extending to both the future child and also the person playing the prank.  From the New Year I had in Tanzania though, it seemed to me like it was also good luck to play pranks on tourists as most of us in the tour group were the victims of good natured tomfoolery at one stage or another throughout the evening.

True or false?

Watch out for flying water during Songkran.

Fact 3) Thailand – A massive water fight!

The Thai New Year, known as Songkran, is celebrated from April 13th-15th and basically involves having a massive water fight for three days (up to seven days in Chiang Mai)!  Everyone gets involved and nobody and nowhere is safe from water attack.  For example, if you’re on a bus then be sure to keep the windows shut or else you may find a bucket of water being thrown through the window by passers-by.  I’ve even seen police dudes being hit with water pistols and taking it all in good fun, so everybody is fair game.  If you walk down the street you also find that some local Thai people will randomly rub clay on your face, although I’m not sure how this ties in with things.

True or false?

Fact 4) Vietnam - Insect Roulette!

In the Zuvhoi region of Vietnam families traditionally celebrate the New Year by playing a game which roughly translates as ‘insect roulette’.  Twelve fried locusts are placed in a bag together with one fried cockroach, and each member of the family then picks an insect at random. On the stroke of midnight each family member eats their insect in turn and whoever is lucky enough to end up with the cockroach (or unlucky enough, depending on your point of view) is believed to be in line for twelve months of good luck during the forthcoming year.

True or false?

Fact 5) Spain – Eating 12 grapes at midnight

In Spain (and also parts of South America) the New Year celebrations are a bit more palatable as they see in the New Year by eating twelve grapes on the stroke of midnight. This tradition is meant to bring good luck with the twelve grapes representing the twelve months of the year and also the twelve chimes of the bell as the clock strikes midnight.

True or false?

Getting completely totally drunk.
A popular English custom.

Fact 6) England – Getting totally drunk

Not a lot of people know of this tradition, but in England we have the tradition of getting completely totally mortal drunk on New Year’s Eve, sometimes to the point of being physically sick.  Although to be fair, this is a tradition not exclusive to New Year.  As a follow up to this tradition, New Year’s Day itself is then often spent traditionally ill in bed all day with a headache.

True or false?

Scroll down the page to see check out the answers and find out how well you did...


Fact 1) Fiji - Lock Up Your Guitars! - FALSE
Cascio Interstate Music - Fender Authorized DealerIt would be cool if it was true, but unfortunately I just made this is.  I did celebrate New Year in Fiji one year but sadly there was no guitar smashing involved.  The hotel staff seemed very keen to throw all the guests in the pool for some reason though, which was a good laugh, and they also made us treats and snacks which was an added bonus, so despite the lack of guitar smashing it was nevertheless still a cool night.

Fact 2) Tanzania - Prank a pregnant woman! - FALSE
I just made this up.  I celebrated New Year one year on a beach not far from Dar Es Salaam (the former capital of Tanzania) and there were a lot of fireworks and a lot of drinking, and also a bit of late night swimming in the ocean, but no pranks on pregnant women or tourists.

Fact 3) Thailand - The Songkran Festival - TRUE
I’ve been lucky enough to experience Songkran in both Bangkok and Koh Pha Ngan and on the first day it’s a brilliant laugh and loads of fun.  By the end of the festival, however, I have to admit that you start to get a bit sick of having wet clothes all the time and it’s nice when it all ends to be able to walk down the street again without getting drenched.

Fact 4) Vietnam - Insect Roulette! - FALSE
I just made this up.  The Zuvhoi region of Vietnam doesn’t exist and neither does insect roulette.  I did visit Vietnam one year for Tet (the Vietnamese New Year), but it was a very low key affair, and there were no insects involved in the celebrations.  There were lots of fireworks around the lake in Hanoi and then after that the whole country seemed to pretty much shut down as relatives returned home to be with their families for the Vietnamese New Year, which is always a nice way to celebrate.

Getting back to insects, I have come across fried insects for sale in markets in parts of Asia, and I’ve also come across insect buffets in parts of East Africa.  How much of this is part of the local cuisine and how much of it is aimed at tourists though, I can’t be sure as there does tend to be a ‘get your photo taken eating an insect’ aspect to it.

Eating 12 grapes as part of the
Spanish New Year celebrations.
Fact 5) Spain - Eating 12 grapes at midnight - TRUE
The tradition of eating grapes can be traced back to the early 1900s when King Alfonso the 13th gave grapes to everyone on New Year’s Eve following a plentiful grape harvest.

Fact 6) England - Getting totally drunk - TRUE
Yes, a fairly obvious one to round things off.

How did you do?  Were you alert to my bluffery of did I manage to fool you with some of my made-up facts?

If you enjoy 'True Or False' dilemmas then check out 'True Or False: A Light-Hearted Collection Of 100 Facts And Bluffs', available for £1.50 from Payhip at the following link:
True Or False: A Light-Hearted Collection Of 100 Facts And Bluffs

The theme of bluffery and deception is also featured in Charles Fudgemuffin's debut novel 'How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy' which is available for free from Payhip and Noisetrade.
Download free book from Payhip
Download free book from Noisetrade

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.