As in most of the world,celebrating New Year’s Eve – known as Nochevieja in Mexico – involves plenty of parties,fun and relaxation,with fireworks,family dinners,sparkling wine and hugs all around. Still,there are some traditions that make spending this annual holiday in Mexico special. Here are a few of our favorites!
Although in Mexico it’s not unusual for people to go out on the town to celebrate New Year’s Eve,many families and friends opt to gather at home instead,sharing more intimate and time-honored traditions. For example,it is common to consume 12 grapes as the countdown begins,which symbolically represents 12 wishes to be made for the coming year. Also,many families will spread lentils around the home’s main entrance to serve as a symbol of abundance,or will place a few candles on a white plate surrounded by lentils,beans,rice,corn flour and/or cinnamon. The candles are allowed to burn down all night until melted,then the waxy food mixture is peeled from the plate and buried outside for abundance.
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Another fun tradition in Mexico for New Year’s Eve is to go caroling. Groups of singers will often go around town serenading homes in the community from the late hours of New Year’s Eve through the early morning of January 1st. Traditionally,it is customary for the singers to end their rounds at the home of someone named Manuel,since St. Emmanuel is known as the patron saint of the New Year. After performing the final songs,the carolers are welcomed into the home for an early New Year’s Day meal.
In addition,many revelers will don red underwear to attract love or yellow to attract money in the New Year. This lighthearted tradition originated in the Middle Ages when wearing bright clothing was largely forbidden. Other popular colors include green for health and wellbeing,pink for true love and friendship or white for hope and peace.
Along with the grapes,traditional foods for celebrating Nochevieja in Mexico include bacalao,a type of salted dried cod that is rehydrated and prepared with fresh chiles,along with tamales and bañuelos,a type of light and crisp wafer. To accompany this,favorite seasonal beverages include tequila (of course!),as well as ponche,a type of delicious fruit punch that is spiked with rum,and rompope (eggnog).
Finally,many people will be seen opening their doors to “sweep out the old” as the old year turns to new,then tossing some coins on the ground outside before sweeping them into the home for prosperity. Or,if more travel opportunities are desired for the coming year,it is customary in some areas to roll out and empty suitcase and walk it around the house (or block if feeling extra energetic) to attract the opportunity for new adventures.
What are your favorite New Year’s Eve traditions? We would love to hear about them in the comments section below!