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HAGEN: 2016 — surreal as it gets

Does anyone else feel like America just put on one heck of a reality TV show? The past 364 days have been like a made-for-television program that had its viewers constantly on edge. For goodness' sake, Merriam-Webster chose "surreal" as its word ...

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Does anyone else feel like America just put on one heck of a reality TV show?

The past 364 days have been like a made-for-television program that had its viewers constantly on edge. For goodness' sake, Merriam-Webster chose "surreal" as its word of the year, proving 2016 couldn't have been reality, right?

Let's backtrack quick on some highlights on "2016 - Surreal as it Gets."

Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Read that again - in a few short weeks, the man who has no political experience will be somehow taking the nation's top political seat.

A few days prior to Trump's victory, the Chicago Cubs pulled off their own improbable win. Riding a 108-year title drought, the lovable losers finally quit losing and won the World Series. Then, for whatever reason, riots broke out in Chicago as fans celebrated the championship.

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Prior to Election Day, America watched Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton argue over emails, chauvinistic behavior toward women and where their money came from in three debates that were like a bad accident, but you just couldn't look away.

Other highlights include an NFL player creating a swirl of controversy over kneeling during the National Anthem, bellyaching national lawmakers who refused to consider a new Supreme Court justice and an NBA championship for the LeBron-led Cavaliers, who led Cleveland to its first major-sports championship in 52 years.

Who needs reality shows when reality is as good as a show?

As we bring in 2017, it's only fitting we send this year out in a strange and bizarre way.

So, here are five weird traditions from around the world that people celebrate around New Year's.

• A New Year hurts so good: At the end of December in Peru, people in a small village celebrate Takanakuy, or "to hit each other." The festival consists of dancing and fighting to settle conflicts and differences. Then, when the new year arrives, everyone starts out with a clean slate. Who wouldn't like this one? Grudges can't last more than a year here.

• My lucky undies: In some South American countries, the color of your underwear around New Year's determines your fate for the new year. Apparently, legend has it that what you've got on sets the tone for the next 365 days. Red will bring in love, yellow is wealth and success, white is peace and blue is good health. Makes you wonder what plaid would symbolize?

• Too full to celebrate: In Estonia, people eat seven times on New Year's Day to ensure abundance in the new year. An abundance of what - gym membership costs?

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• When you're a celebrity: In Panama, homemade models of anyone famous are burned as a way to start the new year off with good luck. That would probably lead to an arrest in many other countries, right?

• Happy New Year, Bessy: In Belgium and Romania, farmers wish their cows a happy New Year. Specifically in Romania, though, if the farmer succeeds in communicating with their cattle, it's bad luck for the year. Can you imagine trying to come up with an answer if your cow asked where all of her friends went when they were trucked off the farmyard to slaughter?

So, if you're feeling up to one final, crazy weekend in 2016, you know what to do: Put on your best pair of underwear and find a pasture to shout "Happy New Year!" to a group of cattle, but make sure no one sees it. Then, get into a fist fight with someone who's really ticked you off, but make sure to do that before your third meal of the day, otherwise you'll probably lose. While waiting for your sixth and seventh meals to cook, mold up a figure of your favorite celeb and watch the ball drop around a warm fire.

Happy New Year.

Opinion by Luke Hagen
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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