I was somewhat surprised a few days ago when I learned that January 1st is not a public holiday in Sri Lanka. OK, as a Scot I was totally astounded. The first clue was an email inviting all staff based in Colombo for "Breakfast on Thursday, 1st Jan 2009 at 10.00 a.m. in order to usher in the new year". (Coming to the office on a holiday in itself was not totally new to me - in Nepal everyone comes into the office at Desain on one of the key puja days). However, I then discovered that not only are we invited for the New Year breakfast, but also that in Sri Lanka it is more than not a holiday - it is decidedly auspicious to come to work on 1st January. It augers well for the coming year. (In Scotland, unless you are in a profession where this is a working day, you would have at least 1 and 2 January as holidays for traditional first footing, and meeting friends, family and neighbours. You would actively avoid having to work on 1st January.)
I had two choices - take a day's leave in lieu of working 10 days solid (including Christmas Day) or coming into work and experiencing this rather different approach to New Year. Being a curious old git, there was not much choice, and when you factor in the free brekkie there really is only one path to follow.
So at midnight I was alone (solitary but not lonely) listening to the cacophony of fireworks in every direction, punctuated with church bells and doing a small puja, sipping (believe it or not) green tea. (I am determined to set the tone for the year - focused, healthy, spiritual, creative and comfortable with my own company while hubby J is also working).
This morning I looked out some nice bright clothes and set off for the office. There was a feast set out waiting for us in the library/resource area and colleagues milling around greeting each other.
After the traditional speech from our acting director, we were invited to tuck in to the traditional New Year food - milk rice, spicy pickles, sweet fried sweets and fruits.
What a wonderful start to the New Year - welcoming in a new era with colleagues in the sunshine with tasty food.
A very Happy and New New Year indeed!