An Upstate New Year's Eve in New York
Author: Mrs. Mecomber
Last update: 12/26/2007
New York City is undoubtedly the most diverse city on the planet. But not all those huddled masses remain in the city. They are, after all, yearning to breathe free, and that's why they come to the wide-open spaces in Upstate New York! So if New York City is the most diverse city, then Upstate New York has got to be the most diverse state. These diverse peoples bring with them their cultures-- their food, their dress, their languages, and their festivals. All the festivals vary from culture to culture, but the merry celebration of New Year's Day is a universal celebration, common to all cultures.
Other cultures have different days on which they celebrate their New Year's. Many do still keep their traditional New Year's (for example, the Chinese New Year, usually in February, is colorfully celebrated by the Chinese in Upstate New York). But after coming to America and seeing how much fun we have with our December 31st and January 1st celebrations, they join in, too!
Central New York is the home to thousands of people from all around the world. The city of Utica is an extremely multicultural and diverse city. It has been the established home for hundreds of years for Germans, Italians, Lebanese, and the Polish. It's also the new home of recently emigrating Bosnians, Ethiopians, Filipinos, Chinese, and Russians. You can walk down the street and see a multitude of people from all around the world, dressed in their bright traditional clothing and speaking their native languages. You can also smell their delicious traditional meals wafting from their homes.
One of the biggest differences among all the peoples is the festive food they eat for the holidays. One great thing about Upstate is that the food is incredible! On New Year's Day, Utica houses glow from the cheery warmth that comes from families cooking food and dining together. If you could peer in, you'd find Polish families celebrating with their mouth-watering pierogies and babkas; you'd see the Filipinos with their adobo chicken and gulo-gulong kamote; you could go down another street and find the Arabs feasting on their world-class hummus and halvah; there's the Greek phyllos and incredible baklava; and the Bosnian cevapcici and heady cups of coffee.
But primarily, Utica is an Italian city. And the Italian food here is out of this world. Even though the Italians have lived here since the 1880's, they still cling to their culture and traditions and their "old country" recipes. There's a pizza place on every block filled with the best pizza on the planet. There are little bakeries crammed with exotic and delectable Italian pastries. Best of all, there's the Chicken Riggies dish, a Utica invention! And on big celebrations-- like New Year's-- the big bowls of Riggies are proudly front and center on Italian holiday tables!
New Year's is the holiday that we celebrate the start of another wonderful new year with our friends and family; this is the tradition no matter what our nationality or origin. But in New York, New Year's Day is also when we welcome a new year together with the diverse people of our communities. And so after a quiet day of food and family (and football!), neighbors cheerfully drift out of their houses and into the evening streets. It is to brave the chilly New York weather and mingle together for the community's colorful fireworks display. Upstate cities heartily enjoy their fireworks-- summer weekends are rarely without the booms and bursting of our beloved pyrotechnics. But New Year's Eve fireworks take on a more special meaning. The mood is reverent and joyous as we fill our sidewalks en masse. We stand together next to the great mounds of fresh white snow that cast a reverent hush, but then suddenly ripple with vibrant colors under the flaming sprays of the fireworks.
Despite all our differences, despite all our traditions, recipes, and ways of life--on New Year's, Upstate New Yorkers cluster together, murmuring good tidings to each other under the flash and spectacle of our fireworks. Another year has come! Another year together!