We celebrated the incoming New Year at home. We had two invitations but I made the decision that because my husband hasn't been well since before Christmas and because to be on the safe side, I'd put him on antibiotics, he would go to bed early (in the hope of feeling better today) and I would have a quiet evening. My daughter turned down all her invitations saying that she would prefer to stay at home. So husband in bed, daughter and I decided to curl up with drinks, television and lap top. Come midnight we refilled our glasses (my daughter is a very generous pourer - runs in the family!) and went outside to watch the fireworks. Husband came outside, the three of us exchanged hugs, kisses, good wishes and love for 2011. Spoke to my son and his new bride within minutes of the start of 2011 - that was one of the invitations I'd declined. Husband returned to bed and daughter and I refilled glasses yet again. Phones started ringing, we rang a few friends, sent text messages and refilled our glasses. We sat, talked, laughed and I'm not sure how many times my husband came outside and went back to bed again or how many times we had refilled our glasses before we decided at almost 3am to call it a night, go inside and go to bed!!
We spend every New Year's Day with very dear friends at their home. Well I say day - it starts around 2pm and one can expect anywhere between 80 to a 100 people to be there. They always put on the most fantastic lunch. The food is wonderful, the bar has every drink one can imagine and the company is sparkling. I know that a great deal of thought and hard work goes into the day but the hosts make it look so easy. The guests who are scattered inside and outside of the house are made to feel so at home - this generous couple have the art of entertaining down to a T.
One of the highlights of the day is the entertainment after lunch. In Trinidad we have Parang groups and for those of you who don't know what that is, here's a little information. I have taken some of the following from 'Soca Parang/Parang Soca compiled by Francisca Allard'.
Trinidad and Tobago is best recognized as the land of Calypso and Steelpan, however during the Christmas season, the music is Parang.
Parang comes from the Spanish word know as "parranda" (action of merry making, group of serenaders). In Trinidad it refers to folkloric music of Hispanic American origins. Parang's origins are controversial. First theory of parang music originated during Christianity of Amerindians by French Clergy Indians in (Spanish) Missions. This does not explain the frequent references to Venezuela. The second theory is that parang music was introduced by Venezuelans imported to work in the cocoa estates which has some merit. Definitely, the close interactions with Venezuelans where parang is also played has matured to a popular form of music not only in Trinidad & Tobago but throughout the Caribbean.
Traditional parang bands often referred to as "Parenderos" consist of four to six singers accompanied by musicians who play guitar, cuatro, mandolin (bandolin) , violin, cello (violoncello), bandol (bandola), box bass, tambourine, clapper, toc-toc (claves), wood block pollitos, tiple, scratcher (güiro) and maracas (chac-chac or shak-shak).
Parang bands move from house to house in neighbourhoods serenading family and friends. It is customary for families to greet the Paranderos with drinks and food, following specific steps or rituals that accompanied the entry to the home, the dedication of songs to the host, the eating and drinking and then the departure. The festive season begin in mid October and goes approximately to January 6, the feast of Epiphany.
The traditional lyrics of parang which is sung in Spanish were at one time mainly Religious and Christian songs. Today there are new and different styles and categories of parang called Aguinaldos (also known as Serenales), Guarapos and Despendidas. In the last several years Soca and Calypso have fused with parang creating Soca-Parang with lyrics in English which appeals to the North American Christmas with Santa and lots of gifts.
So today, after lunch the Parang group arrived and as always had the house 'bopping'. Parang is very happy. I took quite a few photos one of which I'm sharing with you here. I only wish that I had recorded some of it. Maybe YouTube can help me out before the end of the season.
When Parranderos are performing during the season or in competitions, they wear extremely colourful clothes.
These were our Parranderos today and what wonderful if very different music, they made.
My daughter is still at the party (it's 10.15pm - long lunch eh?), my husband is in bed but feeling very much better thank God and I'm at my computer with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at my side. I think my daughter and I killed all the Chardonnay in the house, last night!
So as we celebrate all the elevens - 1/1/11, I have to say that in all honesty I have mixed feelings about 2011. I don't normally make resolutions but I'm a great believer in 'one day at a time' so this year I'm actually going to listen to myself and do my best to let it be my mantra for the year!
How was your day?