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The New Year is ushered in with music and fireworks!
Aruba welcomes the New Year with music and an island-wide firework display. After the last flash of fireworks and the pop of the champagne cork have died away, troupes of travelling musicians known as “Dande” brighten the New Year with song, bestowing blessings of goodwill and prosperity. Aruba’s joyous holiday atmosphere pervades varied events, from casual gatherings to grand-scale receptions at island resorts.
While Americans celebrate the tradition of carolling to spread Christmas tidings, Arubans celebrate Dande to spread best wishes for the New Year. During Dande – which means "to revel" or "to carouse" in the local language, Papiamento, groups of five tor six people, or sometimes more, travel around to the homes of their family and friends, singing their best wishes to these loved ones for success and happiness in the coming year. Each group includes a principal vocalist and musicians toting instruments such as a drum, tambu, wiri and raspa. The festive, upbeat rhythm and simple chorus of Dande songs are contagious. One member of each Dande group carries a hat for donations that will be divided among the group later in the evening. Aruban families feel especially honoured and fortunate to be visited by a Dande group during the New Year holiday.
New Year's Eve on Aruba is a spectacular affair: a nationwide firework display will delight any visitor lucky enough to ring in the New Year on the Island. Among the variety of fireworks set off, the pagara carries special significance. The pagara – a long string of Chinese firecrackers that ends in several larger ones for a dramatic finale – are set off at residences and local businesses on the days leading up to New Year's Eve in order to ward off evil spirits for the coming year. The length of a pagara sometimes reflects a business' success in the previous year and some pagaras can last as long as half an hour once lit! Such an event is no mean thing; businesses and families schedule the lighting of a pagara days in advance so that as many onlookers as possible can attend. If you think you can hear a gigantic batch of popcorn popping in a pan nearby, it is most likely a pagara being set off. Take a look!
A great New Year’s tradition to pick up during your stay in Aruba is the popular “Nieuwjaarsduik” or New Year’s Plunge at the beach. It is a simple concept. Every year at 12 noon on New Year’s Day, young and old gather on the beach at Moomba beach, take part in a Zumba class to loosen up a little and run into the turquoise waters to take a plunge! Afterwards, participants gather to enjoy a hearty bowl of pea soup and sausage. "The Nieuwjaarsduik" is a great way to ring in the New Year.
Bear in mind:
As New Year’s Day is an official Aruban holiday, you can expect shops, petrol stations and supermarkets to close early or remain closed the entire day.