The most recognized new year celebration is January 1, but for a select group in Chile the year begins on September 1. The cold Chilean winter reaches its peak in August. It’s a dark month in nursing homes and senior citizen groups because August is when most elderly die. That played out at the nursing home I visited last year, where three of the 50 passed away during the month. It reminds you that many people are still vitally connected to the changing seasons.
The flipside is that those elderly who make it through the month celebrate another year’s lease on life. A headline in today’s edition of Las Ultimas Noticias read, “2500 senior citizens get together to say goodbye to the cold.” Last night on the news there was a segment, “Senior citizens celebrate the end of August.” At one party there were hundreds of dancing men and women, swaying to the music of sambas, cha-chas, and mambos. I had to smile as I watched the festivities on the TV. Here I was, in my pajamas watching the 9 o’clock news while the abuelitos were out dancing. The segment closed with a comment from one of the women in attendance: “They say September can be dangerous too, but we senior citizens are a tough bunch.”
On an only slightly related note, today also happens to be the beginning of a new year for Notre Dame football fans. The season opener versus Georgia Tech takes places this afternoon. Making it to a game isn’t in the cards this season, but I look forward to making it back to campus for one soon.