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Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Tweede Nuwejaar" - the Second New Year

It is a tradition as old as the country itself. "Tweede Nuwejaar" ( the second of January) has been a day of festivities since the seventeenth century as the local people turn out for day-long excitement. Like "Boxing Day" which was meant for staff in Britain to have a day off, the 2nd day of January is celebrated especially in the Cape where it originated. (I have a sneaky feeling that hard-working Johannesburg ignores this most agreeable custom.)

The main event in the city is the costumed parade of "Kaapse Klopse" (Cape Minstrels) through the streets, followed by the singing contests in the Greenpoint Stadium.The male choirs are dressed in their finest regalia. A little boy can be chosen for a superb soprano voice, or his dancing, comedy or acrobatic ability, or even as a cute mascot dressed like the adults. You can read more on the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival on Google.

On the beaches of the West Coast the people also turn out early for their traditional annual picnic. In my usually tranquil and open view of Kabeljoubank, large buses and many vehicles disgorge the people and soon we see a long procession snaking along the kilometer of beach walk. The beach is soon covered with tents, umbrellas and all types of shelters.

I watch discreetly while these folks have such a lovely time, my fingers crossed that there would not be a runaway fire. In my painting I tried to show the carefree walk down the pathway. Can you see the boy who has jumped onto a rock to see if his folks are following, while his little sister also glances backwards? Two teenage boys are carrying a heavy bag of foodstuffs. The guy in plaid shirt with an enormous bag of (forbidden) firewood (fire regulations) wears his cap back-to-front, a way of indicating his leadership. In the distance a white beach and a blue ocean calls!


  1. A lovely painting to celebrate the new year.

  2. Lovely story and great painting Marie. And you're right, no such celebrations here in Jozi!

  3. Another beautiful painting, Marie! I so love hearing the history and your thoughts behind your pieces. I've begun thinking of artists as pictorial historians. Some day, someone will see these paintings and have a bit of insight into the past. Or so I hope it goes.

  4. What a wonderful description of the meaning of your painting. It looks like they are making a real big effort to ensure a successful celebration to keep the tradition alive. Wonderful historic piece.

  5. Marie, I love how your work tells the story, this is so interesting! Two new years, extra second chances! beautiful work.

  6. Thank you,Jean,Maree,Sherry,Joan and Nancy! I love the body language of these strollers, their emotions are visible even from the back! And yes, this olde Cape of ours is just steeped in history.

    I hope some folks also got time to read about Henry Trotter and the Cape Minstrel Carnival. (link on the post above). I had a lovely letter from him:

    Dear Marie,
    Thank you for this! I appreciate it. And I'm glad that Tweede Nuwe Jaar has a special place in the lives of the West Coast folks as well. Your paintings are lovely, by the way. I look forward to looking at more of them as you share them through your blog. A great idea!

  7. Marie, beautiful painting and wonderful story. Always a treat to visit your blog. Always an inspiration. Thank you.


  8. Marie, thanks for sharing the customs of your homeland. This piece is very strong with the nice diagonal and the shapes formed by the overlapping people take my eye through the painting, stopping on each person to understand what they are doing.

  9. My gosh I'm running behind - what a great painting Marie! So sad that Tweede Nuwejaar is no longer a holiday, it was such a Cape tradition.

  10. I love this painting and the story. The painting grabbed my attention, I wanted to know where were they going, what was in the bags? I feel like I know a secret now.


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