5 Mexican NEW YEAR TRADITIONS (Did YOU Know These?)
Cada vez que acaba un año (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.
Tal vez (Perhaps) 2020 will be particularly easy to let go of because of, you know…
No importa que tan (it doesn’t matterhow) devastador, loco, extraño, inaudito, desesperante, 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, o sea (I mean), ¡¡A LA MEXICANA!!
En este artículo vas a aprender 5 tradiciones mexicanas (5 Mexican traditions) to welcome the New Year! Let me know in the comments if my traditions are similar to your own traditions? What do they do in your country to welcome the New Year?!
New Year's Eve in Mexico
Primero (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, el platillo más delicioso del mundo (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 Five Mexican New Year's Customs
Here are the top five Mexican customs to welcome the New Year.
1. Wearing new underwear
Spanish has a specific word for wearing clother 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 twelve 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
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.
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.
FREE Spanish Training
¡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.