December 30, 2021
Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
We had a wonderful Christmas celebration here in Morelia, Mexico.
Our dear friends, Jim and Susan, came from Barra de Navidad to spend the week with us. The four of us explored, pigged out and thoroughly enjoyed being together.
As we were waiting on their Uber ride to the bus station on Tuesday, Jim asked us what we had planned for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I hadn’t really given it much thought, so I answered that we’d probably watch fireworks on our rooftop, have a few adult beverages and try our best to stay awake until midnight.
Oh, and kiss…we will probably kiss if our eyes are still open at twelve.
We are such party animals, huh?
But it got me to thinking about how Mexico celebrates a new year. I know there will be tons of fireworks since Mexicans celebrate A LOT with fireworks, but I knew there had to be more.
So, I did a little research and found a treasure trove of customs that make the holiday so special here in Mexico.
Here is the super cool stuff I found.
When I was growing up in Texas, my mother and both grandmothers insisted that we all eat black eyed peas and some sort of green vegetable on New Year’s Day. Eating the peas, I guess because they swell up when cooked, brought prosperity, and the “greens” (normally cabbage, collard greens or turnip greens) brought wealth for the upcoming year. Some of our west Texas friends would also add jalapenos to “kick” your motivation into high gear for the new year. Of course, in Texas, all of this was accompanied by a big skillet of cornbread. I always went light on the peas, greens, and peppers, but I chowed down on the cornbread. Even though black eyed peas are probably the luckiest food in Texas, nothing beats my grandmother’s cornbread.
Likewise, since ancient times, Mexican New Year’s celebrations are filled with traditions.
New Year’s Eve, in Mexico, is called Nochevieja which means “old night” and the celebration focuses on saying goodbye to the old. It’s a time to be with family and friends and involves a late meal.
One of the must-eat dishes is Bacalao, which is dried salted codfish cooked with tomatoes and olives. The recipe is called Bacalao a la Vizcaino and it originated in Spain. Other Mexican foods associated with the holiday include, Ensalada de Noche Buena (a rich salad), tamales, romeritos (green leafy vegetables), pozole (pork/chicken soup) stuffed pork loin and of course mole sauces. If you’d like to give your New Year’s feasting a Mexican flare this year, click on the links above to find the recipes.
One Mexican tradition that John and I are definitely doing this year is the eating of grapes for luck. However, it involves a bit more than snacking in front of the television with a big bowl of the luscious orbs.
On New Year’s Eve, to insure prosperity, you have to eat exactly 12 grapes, one for each month of the new year. I’m all over this one because I LOVE grapes. Sure beats black eyed peas.
You are supposed to concentrate on one of the upcoming months with each grape you eat…and all of this is to be done in 60 seconds!
If the grape is sweet, it means that month will be good, but a sour grape means that the month will be filled with doom.
If you decide this tradition is for you, we suggest you buy seedless grapes.
New Year’s Eve is celebrated just about everywhere around the world with champagne. In Mexico, to boost prosperity a ring is dropped into a champagne glass. But, in order to make this good luck charm work, you need to finish the champagne, and then wish someone in the room “Happy New Year” before taking the ring out of the glass.
So, you may wonder, how do you say “Happy New Year” in Mexico?
Well, it’s “Feliz Año Nuevo!” of course.
Any motivational guru will tell you how important it is to make goals and write them down.
Mexicans do the same thing. On New Year’s Eve, the tradition is to write down your wishes on pieces of paper and leave them on a table. Throughout the year, when one of the wishes comes true, you burn the slip of paper that had the fulfilled wish on it.
This tradition is one of our favorites. It involves wearing new, clean underwear on New Year’s Eve, which is, I guess, a good idea for anyone, right?
But the Mexicans are more specific about your skivvies. Your undies need to be:
But you should never, ever wear black underwear on New Year’s Eve. Black panties may make you look and feel amorous, but wear them on a different day because they bring bad luck.
We’ve noticed that a lot of the clothing stores here in Morelia are stocking up on yellow and red thongs. It’s just good business this time of year!
Who could use extra money next year? It’s a no brainer for most of us.
One Mexican ritual that is thought to be effective to promote prosperity is to throw 12 coins out the door. That’s right, just toss them on out. Each coin represents a month in the new year.
After the coins are thrown out, they are to be swept back into the house signifying new money coming in the new year. Sounds good to me!
John really likes this one because he is Capt’n Clean.
If you want a clean start to the new year, that’s exactly what you do…CLEAN! Clean your house, take a bath, clean your car, wash your pets, or do anything that involves tidying on New Year’s Eve. In Mexico it is a symbol of renewal.
It’s also traditional to mop your house with cinnamon water (water heated with sticks of cinnamon). Right before midnight burn incense.
As you sweep and clean, your focus should be on removing the negativity and bad juju from your life, to make room for all the good vibes that the new year will bring.
Just like black eyed peas in Texas, all Mexicans eat at least a tablespoon of cooked lentils for good luck on New Year’s. If no cooked lentils are available, giving a handful of raw ones to a friend or family member will do the trick.
If you want to travel in the new year, at midnight put a few garments in your suitcase and do some rounds around the house or, even better, the neighborhood.
If this is too weird for you, and you don’t want the neighbors to think you’ve gone completely batty, an alternative is to put all your luggage in the center of a room, then walk around the pile a few times.
Supposedly this will insure that you will do a lot of travelling during the new year.
This New Year’s Eve there will be fireworks all over the world.
Mexico does fireworks especially well. Not only do they make spectacular shows for crowds to marvel at, but the displays have a special meaning. The noise and lights are supposed to scare away evil spirits and negative thoughts, allowing safe passage into the New Year.
We will be watching the brilliant Morelia fireworks from our rooftop and wishing you were here to celebrate with us!
So here’s to 2022!
No matter where you are, and no matter how you celebrate your New Year, we wish you good fortune, prosperity and good health!
Feliz Año Nuevo from our family to yours!
~John & Anel Ryan, Barefoot Diary