Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo! [Merry Christmas and Happy New Year]
I was able to spend a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family here, eating quite a large meal together at 9pm at night, and watching fireworks go off in the background with the memories of all the broken piñatas from the previous week still fresh in my mind. Then, on Christmas day I went to a friend's house and we made our "Christmas sushi" (just regular sushi, but hey, we were wearing red and green Christmas hats) and we watched movies for the rest of the day. Needless to day, Christmas celebrations were not quite what I am used to in Chicago, but definitely memorable.
I also had quite the memorable New Year's Eve celebration here. I thought I would share with you how my evening went, so that you all can take these traditions and integrate them into your New Year's Eve parties next year, because I know you will definitely want to.
I went to my friend Mariana's house for New Years along with another YAGM volunteer named Kyle. Mariana told me ahead of time that we would be able to do some Mexican traditions at midnight to either bring us luck or happiness in the upcoming year, and I thought that sounded like it would be fun and I was excited to learn what they would be. When Kyle and I arrived at her house around 7:30pm, she started telling us how we would prepare for midnight. After listing 7 different things, I looked at Mariana with a very dumb-founded look and basically said, "you want me to do what for New Years...?" Kyle even jokingly brought up that maybe Mariana decided to tell us all these things that are traditions to celebrate the new year in Mexico, but really aren't true, knowing that we would believe whatever she said because how would we know any differently. But, she promised us they were real, so we smiled and went along with all these new traditions. So here is the list of things to do right when it hits midnight and it is the new year:
1. Make 12 Wishes for the New Year and Send Them Up in a Balloon: We got pieces of paper and made a list of 12 wishes for 2012, and were told to really think about these wishes and write them as specific as possible. After we made our list of wishes, we folded the paper up real small and rolled it to a tiny little ball and kept it with us until midnight. Once midnight hit, we wished each other a "Feliz Año" and ran quickly to get the helium balloons. We tied our pieces of paper to the three helium balloons and we were headed outside to let the balloons go when we figured out a major flaw in our plan... the paper was too heavy for the helium balloons, so the balloons fell to the ground. Being quick on our feet (and knowing we had a lot more things to take care of in a short amount of time) we ran for a marker, wrote a couple wishes on the balloons, and let them go into the sky. So *side note* when you decide to make your 12 wishes for the New Year, make sure the paper will not weigh down the balloon before midnight, or plan ahead of time to write your wishes on the balloon :)
bye bye wishes!
2. Sweep the Whole House, Quickly: After letting the balloons go, we ran back inside to grab some brooms. We had to sweep all the dust and "bad stuff" from the previous year outside, in order to have a nice and clean start to the new year. It was meant to be a quick sweep, because once again, we had more things to take care of in terms of traditions, so make sure you have your brooms ready to go and sweep at a rapid speed.
3. Eat 12 Grapes: The trick of eating the 12 grapes at midnight is that you eat them while you are sweeping the house too. This is meant to save time so you can move on and get more of the traditions done as close to midnight as possible. The 12 grapes represent the 12 wishes for the new year as well, so each grape that you eat, you have to think of your wish, and then eat the grape. Once again, a great way to be prepared for the eating of the 12 grapes is to have them set aside in groups of 12 in a red solo cup, so all you need to do is quickly grab your cup and go to town getting those wishes made and grapes eaten (all while sweeping the floor)
these grapes are ready!
4. Fill Your Wallets/Purses with Lentils: After the grapes were eaten and the house was swept, we went to the table where there was a pile of lentils. We had to grab handfulls of lentils and shove them in our pockets and wallets, which symbolizes that we will gain money in the next year. You don't need to keep all the lentils in your purse or pocket or wallet for the full year, but you are expected to at least leave a few in there until the next year, so that you keep your luck and get money for the whole year.
5. Run Around the Block with Suitcases: This was probably the moment where I really thought Mariana was joking with us and this was not a tradition. However, I still went along with it. We set aside our suitcases, and after we finished the first four things on our list, we went running with the suitcases. We quickly left the house with our rolling suitcases and started to go down the street. The reason you take your suitcases out for a walk around the block is to symbolize that you will travel a lot in the next year. I cannot say that I was not laughing while I was dragging my suitcase around her neighborhood, but the best moment was when I actually saw some of her neighbor's taking their suitcases out too! This proved to me that we were actually doing a real tradition, and it was kind of fun to see other people out with their suitcases just like us. So, it looks like traveling is something that will be in my future.
Mariana, me, and Kyle with our suitcases
6. Throw Confetti on Each Other: This, I must admit, was a real fun part of the evening :) After we returned to the house after our suitcase adventure, we went outside to the patio and brought with us a huge bag of confetti. We made quite the mess with a lot of confetti throwing, but it was a great way to laugh and start the new year together.
Mariana and me enjoying the confetti
7. Sparklers and Fireworks! It wouldn't be a party without at least a little bit of pyrotechnics. Mariana has a beautiful view of the city of Cuernavaca, so we were able to see a lot of fireworks while we were standing outside on her balcony. Also, Mariana had some sparklers, so we had fun lighting those and moving them around to keep our celebration of the new year going.
So, there are 7 great ways to celebrate the New Year Mexico-style that you can all incorporate into your fiestas next year! Also, make sure that you do it all while wearing some great "Happy New Year" party hats, and do it with great friends and tons of laughter.
Feliz 2012 :)