I was looking around for some weird New Year’s Eve traditions. There’s a handful of articles on this topic right now because Badoo just did a poll on the topic. No. 1 on their list was a tradition in Talca, Chile where the town goes to the graveyard at night (around 11pm, after the final Mass) to be surrounded by the deceased. That’s weird on face, sure, but there are broader Hispanic customs involving reverence for the dead (Day of the Dead, for example, or Dia de Muertos), so I don’t think it’s that weird. If you were wondering, Talca is about five hours south of Santiago via car.
There’s other weird and cool stuff, like the Loony Dook (diving in freezing temperatures while dressed up) or the idea of a “mass kiss” in Venice (seen loosely here):
In Thailand, they have SongKran, which is essentially the world’s biggest water fight:
In Siberia, purportedly one needs to dive to the bottom of a lake while carrying a tree (presumably said lake is frozen, as we’re discussing Siberia), and in Peru (where my in-laws are from), they have a punching festival to even up issues from the previous year:
The only thing on this Badoo list from the United States was the Possum Drop. That happens in Brasstown, North Carolina. That’s a town of 240 people, and the event is run by Clay’s Corner (a store). PETA has been against this whole thing for a while, as one might expect; in March, North Carolina state legislators passed a law permitting this verbiage:
“the taking and holding in captivity of a wild animal by a licensed sportsman for use of display in an annual, seasonal or cultural event, so long as the animal is captured from the wild and returned to the wild at or near the area where it was captured.”
It should be noted that there’s a Kickstarter project around the idea of a Possum Drop documentary. You can check out the trailer/donation pitch here:
There’s also a Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, Georgia — although Brasstown calls itself the “possum capital” of the U.S. If you were wondering, Brasstown and Tallapoosa are about 3 hours apart on GA-515. And yes, if you were wondering, Brasstown sits between Clay and Cherokee counties in North Carolina — and in 2012, both of those counties went over 70 percent for Mitt Romney. Haralson County, where Tallapoosa is, went 81 percent for Romney. That just gives you a little backstory, I ‘spose.
Always thought NYE was a super lame holiday as a kid, but that’s logically because I didn’t have a lot of friends. Cleared 30 and feel the same way, and probably for the same reasons. (Hmmmm.) I don’t think this is cruel, per se — I think it’s an animal being lowered in a box (fairly slowly) while mountain folk cheer and establish traditions around it. Could it be nicer? Yes. Could society as a whole? Also yes. I think it’s a cool small-town, western-NC tradition. I grew up primarily in NYC and honestly, I wish we had a Possum Drop option to counter the main ball. Sometimes charm > excess, IMHO.