New Year’s Day is a holiday in Guyana as part of celebrations that start 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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New Year’s Day is a time of resolutions and starting fresh for some, while for others it is spent recovering from a big, late night spent with friends and family.
Guyana celebrates New Year’s Day much like other Western countries, in most respects anyway. Fireworks, resolutions, family gatherings, and large scale feasts all have their place.
But one aspect of Guyana’s New Years is both different and delicious. It is virtually symbolic of New Year’s parties in Guyana to prepare and consume a large, simmering pot of “cook up rice”.
Cook up rice is an old peasants’ dish that it’s now traditional to eat on “Old Year’s Day”. The tradition is that if your pot does not run empty before New Year’s Day arrives, you’ll have plenty to eat all year long.
Cook up rice was originally made by throwing together all the left over ingredients at the end of the week and cooking them up in a rice dish. This could include beans, meat scraps, vegetables, and a variety of spices. Today, this still happens, but when New Year’s Day is just around the corner, the ingredients are much more deliberate. Cook up rice is the perfect way to cap off a week’s meals or a year’s meals.