Jan 3 2011

How different parts of the world celebrate the New Year

We asked CFCA communication liaisons to describe how they celebrated the New Year in their countries. Here are three reports:

Guatemala

In my beautiful country Guatemala, New Yearís celebrations are prepared with great joy, and our customs and traditions give this year-end feast a special touch.

Traditionally, we receive the New Year with a delicious Guatemalan tamale on the table, prepared from corn, chicken or pork ñ salty or sweet with grapes and raisins ñ and also a hot cup of fruit punch or traditional hot chocolate.

fireworks

We all enjoy dinner as a family waiting for midnight. And then … young and old enter the streets to illuminate the night sky with firecrackers and fireworks.

The tremendous noise announcing the New Year is heard across the whole country.

Beside our Christmas tree and next to the nativity scene, locally called “El Nacimiento,” we say a family prayer.

It all ends with strong hugs and often with tears of joy and emotion. -Luis CocÛn

Kenya

Fireworks lighting up the skies, cheers and ululations, cars honking ñ this is how Kenyans usher in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, young and old throng entertainment spots to sing, dance and drink. The towns are usually alive with activity, and music is heard from miles away.

When the long-awaited hour approaches, a countdown starts. As the clock strikes midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy as people scream at the top of their voices and toast the New Year.

However, not everyone goes to entertainment spots. Some opt to go to evening church vigils where they sing, praise God and listen to preaching.

As the hour approaches, the faithful pray for a fruitful year filled with Godís blessings.†When midnight strikes, praise songs fill the places of worship as the New Year is dedicated to God.

Whether in churches or entertainment spots, Kenya ushers in the New Year in style.

Kenyans are a jovial lot and wherever they are, laughter fills the air as a new chapter is opened.†-Regina Mburu

El Salvador

The celebration of New Year’s Eve, or †Noche Vieja (old night), is big in El Salvador.

Families welcome the New Year with food, cumbia, merengue or salsa music, fire crackers and fireworks, as well as unique midnight ceremonies.

Before midnight, hundreds of families buy what is locally called “Estreno,” or brand-new clothing.

We have a tradition of buying brand-new outfits to be worn at night to welcome the New Year, to attract new and positive things all year long.

Streets are full of people at night; neighbors visit neighbors, share food and dance a little.

Children and teenagers usually spend most of the night popping firecrackers or fireworks.

As midnight approaches, some people prepare unique ceremonies. One is the egg ritual, where people break an egg one minute before midnight, dump it in a glass with water and let it sit as the year changes.

The egg yolk mutates into various forms, and people try to interpret them as trips, houses, etc., a sign of things to come in the New Year.

At midnight, everybody is outside. Family members hug one another; there are tears and laughs; the phone rings with calls from relatives in other countries to wish the family a Happy New Year; and neighbors embrace, offering peace and best wishes.

One hour into the New Year, streets are empty.

The distant sound of a few firecrackers reminds you that the New Year has arrived and that we must do our best to make it a really good one.†-Henry Flores

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Dec 13 2010

Vote for CFCA’s best blog post of the year!

CFCA blog

We want to hear from you! Out of the top 10 blog posts for 2010, which would you consider the No. 1 post?

And the nominations are:

1)†ëMagic beltí†makes Ecuador walkerís pain disappear

CFCA accounting manager Bill Hansen joined Bob Hentzen during Walk2gether in Ecuador. The 21-mile days were no challenge for Hansen until excruciating back pain left him immobile. Bob’s “magic belt” enabled Bill to finish the walk pain free.

2)†Brother writes letter after sponsored youth dies

“Our whole family grieves his death, but we know that he is an angel of Jesus and he takes care of us from heaven.” So writes Santos SalomÛn’s brother to Santos’ sponsor after Santos died in an accident: “He said there is no better medicine than God and a smile.”

3) Cleaning Cinquera

After hiding in the mountains for 12 years during El Salvadorís civil war, residents of Cinquera returned in 1992 to find their beloved town destroyed. Today CFCA sponsors 500 children, youth and aging in Cinquera, and the town is a model of community cooperation and pride.

4) Regina’s gift to her sponsoring family

“Years ago, a priest came to our parish in Hannibal, Mo. He spoke of CFCA and the dire need of children and elderly around the world. Our girls asked, ‘Can we adopt a sister, PLEASE?!!’ We found it hard to say no. Actually, it was God saying yes to a blessing in our lives. My husband and I thought we could make some small difference in a childís life; we didnít realize the difference Regina would make in ours.”

5) Going back to school at 74

“Today I have some homework in Spanish. I have to answer the following questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? I am not going to answer much. What I will write is: ‘I am Flor de Maria. I am 74 years old. I want to be a lawyer. Granted, this isnít up to me. This is up to God.’ “

6) Juan Antonio ñ the dancing man

Ever wanted to see an 83-year-old dance? Here’s your opportunity! Meet Juan Antonio, a vibrant man in El Salvador sponsored through CFCA.

7) Walk2gether brings out hope on the highway

“At CFCA we talk about hope a lot. Itís in the name of our sponsorship program: Hope for a Family. But have you ever actually witnessed hope? I hadnít until I visited Ecuador and walked with Bob and CFCA families on Walk2gether. Hope was everywhere.”

8) From beneficiaries to partners

“Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently. The word ìbeneficiaryî implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. They are some of the most active people I have met.”

9) El Salvadoran man, 103, explains how to live a long life

Need we say more?

10) Miguel reads a poem

Watch this video of an incredibly eloquent 8-year-old, and be amazed! Miguel, a third-grader, read this poem to CFCA President Bob Hentzen and others on the second evening of Walk2gether.

The No. 1 post that the majority of our readers choose will be given a place of honor on our blog, and it may be repurposed for our promotional and marketing materials.

Have you made your choice? If so, click here to take the survey.

Please share the survey with your family and friends, particularly those who don’t yet know about CFCA. We’d enjoy hearing what they think of these posts, too.

Thanks, and we appreciate your help!

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