Tweede Nuwe Jaar: Cape Town’s second party

It’s the 2nd January 2013 today, and I’m off in a bit to see some friends that I didn’t manage to see over New Year’s Eve. This reminded me that in one part of the world, New Year’s celebrations are not restricted to just the one night. On New Year’s Day in Cape Town, as people head down to the beach to nurse their hangovers, everybody knows that it won’t be long until the party is starting again.

The 2nd January is the day on which Tweede Nuwe Jaar is celebrated. This means ‘Second New Year’, and is a tradition dating back over 200 years. Traditionally, the 2nd January was the one day of the year that the Cape slaves had off, and therefore celebrated then. They would dress up in bright colours, as minstrels with parasols and banjos, and parade, sing and dance their way through from District Six to the city centre.

Nowadays, Tweede Nuwe Jaar is still celebrated in the form of one of the biggest street parties of the year. It is a celebration of Cape Coloured culture, a minority ethnic group mainly in the Western Cape. While mainly billingual, most speak Afrikaans as a first language and have extremely diverse ancestral links. This year will see over 13 000 minstrels in 70 troupes parade across the city.

Below is an absolutely fantastic documentary by Al Jazeera, which covers all aspects of the carnival and what it means to the Cape Coloured community today:

Cape Town is one of my all time favourite cities in the whole world. I’ve been so lucky in that I’ve managed to visit it twice, once at Christmas during its boiling hot summer, and once in August when everything was bright green, and we still had stunning blue skies. Cape Town is one of those magical cities with a real gees (roughly translated as spirit), which you can feel in all corners of it, in the shadows of magnificent Table Mountain, which has only just been recognised as a wonder of the world. It has an incredible linguistic diversity, with people talking at you in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa and immediately switching to whichever you are the most comfortable with.

The Bo Kaap is one of Cape Town's most colourful and vibrant areas

The Bo Kaap is one of Cape Town’s most colourful and vibrant areas

The Cape Coloured culture is one of Cape Town’s greatest features, and a visit to the city is not complete without visiting the Bo Kaap. Here you can wander around, experiencing the incredible atmosphere, sampling the amazing food, and drinking up the local accent, in both English and Afrikaans.

Cape Town is full of little treasures that aren’t necessarily on the beaten tourist track of wine tasting and lion spotting. It is completely unique, and today is the day when more than ever, Capetonians come out to celebrate their heritage.

Voorspoedige (tweede) nuwe jaar!