5 Mexican New Year Traditions You Didn’t Know

Every time a year ends, we reflect about it, get all nostalgic about the year that’s gone, and at the same time we get excited about the year that will begin. 

5 Mexican NEW YEAR'S EVE TRADITIONS (Did YOU Know These?)

It doesn’t matter how unique… this year has been. We can always say goodbye to it in style… and since we’re doing that, let’s do it the best way possible, I mean, ¡¡A LA MEXICANA!!

In this blog post, I’ll share 5 Mexican New Year traditions to welcome the New Year!

Mexican New Year Traditions on New Year’s Eve in Mexico

First, let me tell you a little bit about how we celebrate New Year’s Eve in Mexico. 

Whereas on Christmas we spend the whole of Christmas Eve having dinner together as a family, things can be a bit more relaxed on New Year’s Eve. So, a lot of Mexicans will have dinner at home with their families and then go someplace to party with their friends. Well, except this year, of course…

Many families, like mine, have dinner AND a party at home. We get together at around 9 pm on New Year’s Eve, always at my mom’s place. She makes this gigantic pot of pozole, the most delicious dish in the world. 

There’s plenty of booze, piñatas, dancing, singing, more eating, firecrackers, drinking contests, more eating. It’s just a great, great party!!! 

Top 5 Mexican New Year’s Customs

Here are the top 5 Mexican customs to welcome the New Year.

1. Wearing new underwear

Spanish has a specific word for wearing clothes for the first time: “estrenar”.

There’s no equivalent in English… that I can think of. The verb estrenar means to wear something for the first time.

La ropa interior (underwear) that we have to estrenar en la Noche Vieja (wear for the first time on New Year’s Eve; literally, The Old Night) is supposed to be roja (red) if you want el año nuevo to bring you love, or amarilla (yellow) representing gold if you want money… I am doing a combo!!! 

2. Eating 12 grapes at midnight

Cada uva (each grape) represents a resolution and you’re supposed to eat them right at midnight. 

Some people say you have to comer las uvas (eat the grapes) within the first 12 seconds of the year!! ¡¡¡Imagínate!!! (Imagine!!) 12 grapes in 12 seconds… Seems like we’re trying to start el año nuevo en la sala de emergencias (the New Year in the ER).   

3. Running to the street with suitcases

El objetivo de esta superstición (the purpose of this superstition) is to make sure that the new year brings lots of travelling! Esta superstición (this superstition) can also be found in other Latin American countries. 

4. Fireworks and burning the Old Year

This is particularly popular in the south of Mexico. People make some sort of doll or dummy, with fabric and paper, and they put some firecrackers inside. This dummy represents el Año Viejo (the Old Year). We set the dummy on fire right after midnight!! 

Firecrackers are not limited to the ones inside the dummy. Lots of people —and children most of all— spend a good amount of time on the streets tronando cuetes (lighting up firecrackers)… Is it the safest thing to do? No! Is it fair for the poor dogs that spend all night stressed about the noise of firecrackers? ¡¡Absolutamente no!!

5. El recalentado – Eating the leftovers

El primer día del año (the first day of the year) is a national holiday and it’s quite common to spend it with one’s family. At home, everyone is welcome to come over on January 1st to have the leftovers from the night before. 

mexican new year traditions

El recalentado literally means “the reheated one”, but rather than simply referring to the leftovers of the dish that was eaten the previous night, el recalentado is a whole experience.

We get together to hang out, watch movies, have coffee, have leftovers that of course taste better than the night before, talk about the embarrassing things that Auntie Marie did when she was drunk last night… 

Often, el recalentado becomes a party on its own, but a bit more moderate, since we’re all tired and hungover.

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¡Muy bien! Now you know 5 ways to welcome the New Year a la Mexicana!!! Next time a Mexican asks you to come to their New Year’s party or to el recalentado, you’ll know exactly what to expect and what to do!!! 

To make sure your Spanish skills are up to the level to really enjoy a party surrounded by Spanish speakers, sign up to the Free Chunking Training that we’ve put together to show you how you can apply our method called Conversation Based Chunking —which I secretly use in my videos and helps you to speak Spanish without having to think about grammar all the time— to ease your way into fluency en español

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