New Year's Eve: How do Mauritians celebrate New Year's Eve?

Published on 2021-12-30 at 04:25 by Rachel Maureen Silvio
The countdown is on, this is it! What a tough year 2021 has been! Another year is coming to an end and yet another year with COVID-19. It definitely was not the jolliest of years between the lockdown, the sanitary restrictions, the vaccines, the spread of the virus... But 2021 is coming to an end so let's see it off with a bang and hope for a better 2022! How do Mauritians celebrate the New  Year?

New Year's Eve according to the Gregorian calendar is celebrated almost everywhere in the world. Everywhere, there are traditions that we hold dear. Here in Mauritius, New Year's Eve is celebrated with the family.

Usually on the morning of the 31st, Mauritians complete the housework and last purchases. It has become a custom now: new curtains, new sheets, new tablecloths are displayed while preparing the food and the house for the evening shenanigans. What is on the menu? While this can vary, many Mauritians opt for a barbecue, weather permitting.

But this is not the case for all. While some like to have a party, with karaoke and dancing, others prefer a quieter evening. A nice dinner while listening to the ranking of the songs of the year on the radio... Others still, prefer to be catered for and celebrate the new year at a resort somewhere around the island... Others still prefer to rent a house by the sea to break from the daily routine.

This evening is above all an opportunity to get together with family and friends, taking stock of all the good and bad of the year just gone and taking resolutions for the year to come.

And then, amidst the music and the laughter: it is almost midnight. The whole island gets ready. The big red firecrackers are prepared. Although it is a Chinese tradition, this custom has been adopted by the entire Mauritian nation. Whether it is families of Hindu, Christian or Muslim faith, each one of them has to set off the long red firecrackers and fireworks. Mauritians believe that exploding firecrackers on December 31 is a way to chase away evil spirits, and to start the new year off right.

Only a few seconds left now. The countdown has started. It is an extraordinary moment that awakens in us mixed feeling, excitement mixed with anxiety. 3,2,1... at the 12 strokes of midnight, the firecrackers resound everywhere across the island. Thousands of fireworks illuminate the Mauritian sky making it come alive for the first time of the year. It is with emotion that families wish each other a happy new year, sometimes with tears in their eyes, hugging and toasting together at the beginning of a new year while the fireworks continue until the early hours of the morning.

It should be noted, however, that New Year's Eve might be a bit different this year as many Mauritians seem to opt for a celebration without fireworks and firecrackers to respect those who lost the battle against COVID-19 during the past year and their bereaved relatives.