Kaieteur News – Over the years, it has been the custom of this column to wish consumers and all readers, “A Happy and Prosperous New Year” and this was done in the spirit of “Auld Lang Syne.”
This year, despite a world radically changed by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, we persevere to maintain the traditions of the New Year we have always known but at the same time being cognizant of the different world created by the pandemic.
At the parties when dancers dance the Old Year into the New and when the noisemakers and squibs go off at midnight to drive away evil and the evil spirits from the New Year and when the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” and the clinking of wine glasses to toast the New Year reverberate in the night air, these manifestations of the New Year which involved the close gatherings of people were precluded by the COVID-19 regulations.
Yet welcome efforts were being made to keep the spirit of the traditional New Year festivities alive by videos and other electronic devices.
The public fireworks displays which attracted thousands of spectators did not occur though the GDF still sent off their huge and colourful fireworks into the skies where they could be seen and enjoyed by people in their homes.
Many churches held virtual services and churchgoers now realized that they could worship in their homes. The traditional New Year concerts given by the militia and police bands in the Botanical Gardens and at the seawalls were not physically attended but were broadcast on radio and TV.
Much of holiday shopping occurred online and New Year’s visits by friends and family to each other did not occur as much, since the pandemic advisories discouraged such.
Yet traditional family lunches and dinners did occur and the print media and TV carried advertisements with the traditional New Year motifs, such as the hands of the Grandfather Clock moving from midnight or Father Time with his scythe clearing the remnants of the Old Year, making way for the baby New Year.
People have successfully maintained the spirit of the traditional New Year in 2020 though the pandemic regulations had forbidden so many of the physical activities associated with the festival and some are still optimistic that coming New Year’s would be celebrated in the traditional way once the pandemic had subsided.
Others have realistically understood that the pandemic had changed the world forever and that New Year as we now know it would not be celebrated in pre-pandemic style in future.
For one, the usage of Information Technology (IT) has been enormously strengthened and extended to the point where international meetings are now being held via Zoom.
Significant communications are being conducted between groups and individuals using social media.
This growing IT use has begun to affect life in multifarious ways:
Online shopping has grown exponentially and housewives who once used to regard shopping in downtown stores a joy of life are now turning to Amazon and other online suppliers. Medical treatment is beginning to use IT and education has become very dependent on it and less use is now made of the classroom; this is especially true in tertiary education.
Books are increasingly being presented electronically and bookstores are cutting on their stocks of hard copies. IT has been infiltrating and changing social relations and customs and having house parties or friends calling on each other for tea or a drink are becoming less fashionable.
Despite the apparent lessening of direct human contact which the pandemic has brought to social life, people have begun to show more concern for the health and welfare of their neighbours and gifts of food are given to the less fortunate and people have become generally more helpful to each other, especially to the less able.
In the post-pandemic world, the customs and celebrations of New Year as we know them will be transformed.
Into whatever new guise the transformation of the festivities of New Year may take, they would always generate hope, joyousness, fraternity, concern for our fellow man, and the cathartic feeling of entering the freshness of a new life since New Year is almost a rite of passage, and as a Rite of Passage, it will always retain its joyousness and optimism.
The metamorphosis will be noticed in 2021 and will be further unfolding with the passing of the years, but always retaining its present qualities and may even be enriching those qualities in ways now unforeseen.
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