You know what you would be doing if you were in exotic Rio de Janeiro right now? You'd be joining millions of revelers at the Copacabana Beach and ringing in the New Year with fireworks, dancing and gifts to the goddess Lemanja. You would set your gifts right on the waves in hopes that this ocean goddess, originally brought to the Americas by African slaves and known as Yemaja, would grant you your new year's wishes.
Of course, in my part of the world we do things a little differently. We paste flowers, seeds and all manner of verdant things on parade floats. Then--if we are bold and much, much younger--we spend all night on a city street and throw tortillas at passing cars. In the morning, we--the bolder, younger ones of us--shuffle off to port-a-potties and watch our gigantic and mechanized tributes to nature glide down the street: beacons of the cleanliness and alertness we now crave.
Those of us who are older and wiser make nice with the local Lemanjas. They get you inside access to the spectacle. You can watch people actually decorating the floats, and you don't get whacked with a tortilla, which is really how you want to start your New Year.
Happy New Year everyone!
And thanks to Petrea, who has more pictures here. This goddess is for you.