Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Global Revelry Marks New Year Rituals Include Fireworks, Goddess Worship

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Global Revelry Marks New Year Rituals Include Fireworks, Goddess Worship

Article excerpt

There were flowers for a tropical water goddess, grapes for each chime on the clock and parties, parties, parties as revelers around the world welcomed the new year.

Two million revelers on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach were dazzled by a flashing light of 300 tons of fireworks illuminating the scenic coastline. But the real star of Rio's year-end party was the Afro-Brazilian water goddess Iemanja. People donned white outfits and headed to the water with flowers, candies, cigars and other offerings.

In Spain, families started the new year by eating 12 grapes - one for each chime of the clock. For some, the year began tragically. Twelve women returning from a New Year's Eve pilgrimage to a shrine in Benin died when their van collided with an oncoming truck. Their bodies were found Wednesday morning on a coastal highway, state-run radio said. In Fremantle, Australia, 35 people were injured when an overcrowded balcony collapsed. Shots fired in a crowded restaurant killed three people at a private party in the Netherlands. A man died in Copenhagen, Denmark, when he ignited a box filled with fireworks. Also in the Danish capital, 70 rioters broke shop windows and tried to build bonfires. Eighteen were arrested. In some places, it was difficult to start the new year off with a bang. Officials in the Philippines tried to prevent injuries by threatening to arrest anyone who set off firecrackers with more than one-third of a teaspoon of explosive for each stick. About 168 people were injured anyway. Fireworks were banned in Paris this year because of security measures imposed after a subway bombing on Dec. 3. In Lima, Peru, it was a somber new year for the 81 hostages at the Japanese ambassador's residence. The Rev. Julio Wicht, a hostage and a Jesuit priest, celebrated Mass at midnight. And in London, Big Ben nearly missed its date with the new year when frigid weather caused some sluggishness in the bells, the British Broadcasting Corp. …

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