Coen Wubbels documents Paramaribo, Suriname’s daytime New Year’s Eve tradition of blasting away evil spirits with the massive ignition of thousands of firecrackers.

AT 10 AM, Suriname’s capital is closed for traffic. Police officers leisurely patrol the streets and women issue earplugs sponsored by 3M. Platforms are constructed on street corners and bands tune their instruments. Food and beer stalls are erected in seemingly random places; Parbo Bier vendors will have to compete with the hard liquor people bring in coolers from home. The atmosphere will remain relaxed — no aggression, no incidents.

Streets are thronged with people. They laugh, show off their latest hairdo, dance, and pose. Live bands, parading brass bands, and blaring music are drowned out when two kilometres of superstring are lit, pounding against ear drums, filling the streets with smoke and red debris. But the evil spirits are gone.

Young and old hop and spin to Suriname’s rhythms. It has the madness of Carnival. At 11:30 PM, everybody returns home. Houses need to be cleared of evil spirits as well, preferably at exactly midnight.

1

Paramaribo crowd

Thousands of people flock to Paramaribo's city center to watch the blasting away of evil spirits. The noise is so loud and the smoke so intense that everybody keeps a distance.

2

Firecracker wall

The firecracker wall (in Suriname called a pagara) is ready for the battle.

3

Cool haircuts

Hair, hair, hair. It's important, I tell you.

4

Parbo Bier New Year's

New Year's is the time to drink Parbo Bier during the day.

5

Cool hairdo

Did I say hair was important?

6

Firecracker blast

You can no longer hear, smell, or see anything but we are having fun.

7

Brass band

There is music on every corner and brass bands walk the streets.

8

Revelers

Revelers enjoy beer and conversation.

9

Blasting away

Firecrackers blast away evil spirits.

10

Dancing in the streets

Bump and grind, have a good time.

11

New Year's texts

They're texting their way into 2012.

12

Hanging fireworks

The end of the pagara goes straight up in the air for the final blast.

13

Green glassware

Cheering in the New Year with a retro 7-Up goblet.

14

Girl with sparkler

A little girl enjoys her own sparkler.

15

Raking up fireworks

A rake is the most appropriate tool to clear up the mess.

What did you think of this article?
Meh
Good
Awesome