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TalTech New Year’s Stories: It is always an atmospherically charged moment

Abiodun Emmanuel Onile from Nigeria. Junior researcher with focus on energy systems at the Department of software science, School of Information technologies.

Abiodun Onile

My typical New Year

“The New Year is often celebrated with the family in Nigeria. Traditionally I am required to travel to my country home, where members of the family gather to celebrate the New Year. In the southern region of Nigeria, New Year celebration is an elaborate ethno-religious festivity that can extend from 25 December to 1 January. Typical activity includes an elaborate display of fireworks and the clock or time countdown celebration. Few minutes to 12:00 am people recite blessings as they count ticks of the time in anticipation of the incoming year. At day break we celebrate the festivity with choice and traditional meals. Although, this is much contemporary experience, people who cannot keep up with the celebrations probably due to critical assignments (or under the influence of liquor) also can enjoy the common shout from neighbors or other households. It is always an atmospherically charged moment. In other times, my family goes camping during this period, in most cases for religious or pilgrimage functions. These functions involve elaborate road trips and often dominated with blessings for the new year. However, few activities are also involved in the camping such as reunions with relatives or old friends. Again, such travels have allowed me the benefits of learning about my country (Nigeria has 36 states with 6 regions), and soon became an activity I anticipated each year, especially during the teenage times.”

Congregation Milton Keynes in the UK

Typical New Year in Nigeria

“There are traditional activities such as New Year prayers (for Christians), New Year countdown, and fireworks display. Notably, there is no winter season in Nigeria, but Nigerians resonate symbolically with the season. The warmth of the harmattan season and cheerfulness in people’s faces connect us with the rest of the world in celebrating the arrival of the new year. Nigerian music culture of Afro pop, and folk music culture are what reverberates and awakens the celebration mood, often in radio jingles and TV adverts and thus heralds the awareness of the New Year. Afro pop is a popular music genre across sub-Saharan Africa. Talking about places Nigerians would love to visit in Christmas or New year periods, there is always an endless list, which includes visiting religious centers, cinemas, amusement parks and monuments scattered across regions of Nigeria or other west African states. Topping my list is traditional church choir renditions, and possibly a visit to Lekki nature park in Lagos, Nigeria.”

A New Year to remember

“A profound New Year experience that I still remember vividly took place during my second degree in the United Kingdom. I was exposed to the English culture for the very first time and the shear difference in the way of life and celebration experience was profound. Nigerians are warm and cheerful especially during this time, however my encounter with the English culture presented profoundly different experience. The streets were deserted, shopping malls were closed and a day ahead Christmas and New Year stimulated rush-time purchases. This was totally new experience for me and different from the way things play out in my culture, but I soon got used to it. This experience seems strange but it was important in order to understand the culture difference. On a more positive side I had the opportunity to book a ticket to a fun beach event in Brighton, where I got to know other people and had a very warm celebration.”

Abiodun in Cambridge in 2014

Your 2020

“2020, has been challenging year for the entire human race. For me, I will say I have been lucky and grateful I have not suffered the horror of the pandemic. Even though, nobody can escape the inconveniences it causes, like a suspended summer break, a cancelled trip home or some restrictions while visiting public places. And yet, life is the most valuable and should be celebrated. So, 2020 taught me to be more grateful for intangible but important things such as good health and life in itself.”

How do you plan to celebrate this New Year?

“As safe as possible, but if things miraculously change before new year then it can go slightly bigger. For now, a bottle of wine, and a good home-made meal will satisfy the holiday feelings.”

Goals and resolutions for 2021

“A good thing with so much hitting rock bottom experiences of 2020, is that the only way to go is up.
I therefore, hope to invest more time in attaining specific goals. Some goals relating studies and research I can mention include investing more time to researching strategic study areas, participating in projects or even joining a book club.”

Christmas in Tallinn

Wishes to TalTech community

“I wish things get better generally and also for the TalTech community hoping that face-to-face activities can resume as soon as possible. However, during these trying times, I can only wish for the safety and wellbeing of all staff and student within the university community.”

Traditional New Year food

“Popular traditional dishes associated with the New Year festivity in Nigeria include jollof, pepper-soup and puff-puff which sufficiently caters for a sizeable family feast. Jollof is a meal preparation that uses spices to garnish rice and served with salad or fried plantain. Typically, the origin of this dish has been rigorously contested amongst inhabitants of west Africa and the Caribbean. But in most cases Nigerians wins by the shear strength of population or number (Nigerian population is about 200 million). Another interesting desert that often features on the menu is puff-puff, a product of deep-fried spiced dough bread. This is also a well-known food in the West-African countries.”

New Year Playlist

Timi Dakolo, Emeli Sandé Merry Christmas, Darling
Zlatan This Year
Charles Brown Bringing in A Brand-New Year (Original 1961 organ version)
The Eagles Funky New year
Fela Anikulapo Kuti Army Arrangement

Alternative NY celebration tips in times of Covid

  • Zoom celebration could help getting together with loved ones
  • Replaying joyful playlist and making favourite dishes
  • Trying out some well-being activities
  • Binge-watch new year channels, and solving puzzles with friends.
  • Staycation at safe and nearby locations and taking evening walks.



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Svitlana Kharchenko

Immigrant and traveler. Info yoga and all things sustainable. Foreign languages and countries enthusiast.