Aruba celebrates New Year’s Day with a public holiday every 1 January, as does most of the rest of the world. However, the celebrations really begin on New Year’s Eve and reach a high point with the turning of the clock from 11:59pm on 31 December to midnight on 1 January.
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Aruba probably keeps New Year with more vigour and more creativity than almost any other nation you can name. Days in advance and on through to New Year’s Day, you will hear pagara firecracker strings exploding all over the island. These Chinese-style firecrackers end with a couple of larger crackers for a dramatic finale. Some are so long it takes 30 minutes for the entire string to explode!
From New Year’s Eve until Epiphany, groups of singers and musicians called “dande” go from door to door, calling on family and friends. This is akin to Christmas carolling, but it’s New Year’s wishes and songs that are offered instead. One member of the group may carry a donation hat to collect the generosity of the listeners. The earnings are divided among the group at day’s end.