New Year’s Eve, otherwise known as nochevieja or año nuevo, is a big deal in Mexico; from the more recent celebrations that have begun to catch on with younger generations to the traditional and ritualistic efforts many revellers will indulge in to guarantee good luck, good fortune and good health, amongst other things, there are tons of ways to ring in the new year like a local. Here’s everything you need to know about año nuevo in Mexico.
For some reason, lentils play a big part in Mexico’s New Year’s Eve celebrations; you can either leave them outside your door on December 31st, or eat lentil soup right before midnight (or right after midnight). You can also stick a handful in your pocket, bag or purse if you’re not in the mood for a snack. Either way, they are heavily associated with abundance and good fortune. It’s worth a try, right?
Tradition dictates that if you want to attract some good luck on New Year’s Eve, you need to plan your outfit accordingly – right down to your underwear! Supposedly, red underwear will bring you love in the new year, whereas a pair of fetching yellow briefs will bring money and happiness. Equally, if you’re loved up and rich already, white underwear brings peace and calm and black supposedly attracts dignity. You can apparently get the same effect with candles though; green for health, red for love and orange for wisdom!
Perhaps the most famous Hispanic New Year’s Eve ritual is the eating of 12 grapes and making of 12 wishes during the 60 second countdown to midnight. Easy, you say? Well, let’s hope so, because if you successfully eat your 12 grapes before midnight, it’s said that your 12 wishes will come true and you’ll have good luck throughout the upcoming year. This is a tradition most heavily associated with Spain, as it developed out of a Catalan New Year’s Eve ritual, but it’s also popular in Mexico.
Mexicans are known for having a late eating schedule as it is, given that lunch is traditionally the largest meal of the day and dinner is more akin to a light snack. However, they go one better on New Year’s Eve, often not sitting down to eat until around 11pm. If you really want to celebrate like a local, you need to stave off those hunger pangs until late in the evening, so you can really enjoy the turkey, cod, pork or pozole that’s dished out before the new year. Wash everything down with a traditional fruit punch (ponche) or eggnog (rompope).
It’s common to ring in the New Year with a glass of something sparkling and alcoholic in hand. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, the chinking of glasses will ring out from bars, restaurants and homes across the country. However, for a bit of added good luck, it’s said that dropping a gold ring into your bubbly before saying ‘¡salud!’ (cheers!) will bring you good fortune in the upcoming year.
Unlike Mexican Christmas, which is firmly a family celebration, New Year’s Eve is one that is increasingly becoming something you celebrate with friends in a bar, restaurant or public square. That’s not to say you can’t drag your parents along with you though! Either way, if you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Mexico, you’ll undoubtedly be spoiled for choice regarding places to catch some fireworks and grab a drink and have a dance.
While the writing of propósitos, or resolutions, is just as common a ritual in Mexico as it is in many other countries, there is also the tradition of purifying your negative thoughts and bad energy before the start of a new year. This is done by compiling a list of everything bad that’s going on in your life, or of everything bad that happened over the past year, and then burning it. Legend states that this ensures the bad vibes won’t come back to haunt you.
This one is as literal as it sounds – put some money in your shoes and you’ll allegedly enjoy good fortune during the following year! Equally, it’s said that just holding money in your hand (the bigger the bill, the better!) when the ball drops will bring prosperity in the new year…and it might be more hygienic than sticking pesos in your shoes.
Sweeping the house is a classic way of ensuring good fortune in the upcoming year. In cleaning the floor, not only are you saving yourself a job for the morning, it’s also said that you’re emptying the house of negative energy and ridding the bad vibes. Similarly, having the December version of a ‘spring clean’ is typical too – many people will throw out all the items that no longer work or are no longer used to open the door for new prospects in the coming year. If you’re not a fan of cleaning, leaving all the lights on in your house at the strike of midnight is also said to bring prosperity.
If what you’re seeking in the new year is the opportunity to travel and see the world, doing a trial run of packing your suitcase and wandering round the block with it in the early hours of New Year’s Day isn’t a bad idea. Many people believe that carrying out this ritual will help you fulfil your wanderlust in the upcoming year, but you must remember to pack items related to the kind of trip you want. There’s no point packing a bikini if you want to go skiing in the Alps!
Equally, you don’t have to celebrate the New Year on December 31st. Due to the high number of Chinese immigrants, and the popularity of Chinese New Year celebrations in general, it’s not uncommon to see many people ringing in the new year in February instead. Furthermore, some indigenous Mexican groups don’t recognise January 1st as New Year’s Day either. The Seri from Sonora consider New Year’s Eve to be June 30th, whereas in Veracruz some people celebrate on the first Friday in March.