…and at the end of the year…
Before we address New Year’s Eve, BE CAREFUL on December 28!!! In Mexico, Spain and other Latin-American countries it’s the day for hoaxes or pranks, quite similar to April Fools’ Day in other English speaking countries or European countries, though its origin is quite different. This day the church observes the Massacre of the Innocents. According to St. Matthew’s Gospel, afraid of being overthrown by a new king, after King Herod heard about the birth of Jesus from the wise men he ordered the murder of all children in Bethlehem under the age of two. The cause of why this ominous day was chosen to play pranks is not too clear, but it apparently began sometime in Europe during Medieval times coupled with a pagan ritual known as the “Festival of Fools” and a combination of parodies of church officials. With the passing of time, these rituals spread through other countries in Europe and arrived to Spain in the form of pranks, later into the New World. In Mexico, though people are warned, the media twists the latest news making them sound real; it’s also advisable not to lend any object or money, you’ll never see it back!!!…and the prankster will usually say ‘You innocent little dove that let yourself be fooled’…So, beware!

Though a worldwide celebration, many countries have New Year’s Eve traditions of their own. Mexico, the magical and mystical country, besides fireworks, dinner, laughs, hugs, good time and the toast, has adopted some traditions from other countries, which are also hand-in-hand with rituals…and a few superstitions. Just to name a few: from Spain the classic 12 red grapes, eating one for every month, one wish per stroke before the clock strikes twelve; from the Far East, fireworks to chase evil spirits; from Italy, throw old kitchen utensils through the window representing the end of a stage, and lentils whether placed uncooked in a bowl or having the first cooked spoonful will secure prosperity and abundance. Now, if you find a neighbor running around the block twelve times with a suitcase (geez… impossible!!), that neighbor surely wants to travel next year; though the best option here is to place suitcases in the middle of a room and walk around them several times (pheew…much better!). You might see people sweeping coins or bills into their homes, or holding money in their hands or inside the right shoe, the ritual is to keep money coming; others might be throwing out buckets of water after thoroughly cleaning the house of the “old”. A votive candle surrounded with sugar to attract money; hand out to friends and family present, wheat and also place it around the house to attract abundance, health and money; 3 red apples covered with honey, sugar and cinnamon to fill the house with love and happiness; “cleansings” with flowers and candy for luck or with herbs to clear away negativity. Some wear new clothes to ensure clothing all year. Wear yellow underwear backwards and as soon as the clock strikes 12, change it around to ensure a happy year and good vibes; if the underwear is red you will find love and it turned backwards, you will renew your wardrobe; pink underwear is for friendship, white for hope and peace (the rituals say: never black!). Others go to the farmers’ market to buy amulets for love, money, work, to find a husband/wife, for health, etc. Some write a list of New Year’s wishes and burn the paper. An essential element is fire: gold candles for money, blue candles for peace, to achieve your goals or find a new job; yellow for abundance or attract business, red for passion, green for health; white for clarity, for peace or to heal a relationship; orange for intelligence, and purple to transmute the negative into positive and chase away bad vibes. In several States around Mexico it is customary to burn the “old man” (old year) symbolized by a rag or paper doll.

Take a pick, you will surely find many other odd rituals to choose from. Letting go of the past and begin anew into a refreshed and recharged chapter of our lives is the true intention. To all, the best wishes for a remarkable 2013!!!!

Monica Sauza, a court certified translator, has been assisting island residents with translations abd immigration issues for over a decade.

This story originally appeared in the weekly Cozumel 4 You NEWS – the island’s number one source of positive information about our island!  Be sure and subscribe to the weekly NEWS to find out all the island events! You can find the link on the bottom of our home page.

Monica Sauza
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