This time last year, in a frosty Danish suburb, we were joined by friends, family and the neighbours to toast the arrival of 2014.
At the time, we had secured our Australian residency visas but we had yet to put our house on the market and yet to make concrete plans to move to Canberra.
In Denmark, we learned and grew to love the local New Year traditions – watching Queen Margrethe’s televised speech; welcoming wandering bands of friends and neighbours as they roamed home to home, taking a glass at each house until they became too merry to wander any more; watching ‘Dinner for One’, a 1950s British TV skit which is shown every year, despite its vintage; and buying kransekage, a special, pyramid-like cake traditionally eaten at New Year.
The highlight of the evening always came a few minutes after midnight when we would all step outside and watch the sky light up with fireworks. New Year is firework night in Denmark and you can imagine how the sky looks when everybody simultaneously puts a match to their carefully chosen pile of Chinese gunpowder concoctions.
We only bought our own fireworks once. Let me just say that the combination of all night drinking and explosive devices is not a good one. A friend who lives in Copenhagen is so alarmed by the drunken firework enthusiasts who take to the city’s narrow streets on New Year’s Eve, that every year he books into a quiet hotel across the bridge in rural Sweden and reads books all evening. One year, he came home to find a firework had lodged itself under the eaves of his top floor apartment and had set fire to the place, burning the roof off.
Despite the obvious dangers of the tradition, seen from afar, a black canvas made bright by a whole country’s celebrations is a sight to behold.
I don’t know what to expect here in Australia, since we don’t really know what the traditions are. We’ve seen the world-famous footage of the celebrations in Sydney Harbour, but I’m not sure how representative that is of the rest of the country.
We’ll be spending New Year down at Bateman’s Bay, a few hours’ drive, east of Canberra. We’ll be among friends and are looking forward to toasting 2015 and the start of our first full year in Australia.
Despite the distance from Denmark, we’ll be holding on to one New Year tradition – we’ll be looking out for fireworks in the sky rather than lighting them ourselves.
If New Year has the tendency to feel like a fresh start, then New Year in a new country compounds the feeling of starting again. We’re excited to be here, excited to be beginning a new life, and eager to see what 2015 has in store for us.
Thanks for continuing to read this blog. I wish you and yours a very happy 2015. Godt nytår as they say in Denmark.