Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 2pm

How Mexico sees out the old

Like folks all around the globe, most Mexican people will bid farewell to 2013 with spirited social gatherings, sharing goodwill hugs and raising a glass of bubbly as they welcome the new year.

A popular south-of-the-border New Year’s Eve custom is to serve a platter of grapes with the late night cena (dinner). At the dot of midnight, each person makes a wish and gobbles one grape in sync with each of the 12 chimes of the clock.

Other curious superstitions are also widely associated with the arrival of the año nuevo in Mexico. In some regions of the country it is customary to climb up a ladder and jump to the ground on the final stroke of the clock, leaving behind all things negative with a big leap into the new year.

Many individuals take care to free themselves of debts before the year is out, then celebrate New Year’s Eve decked out in natty attire, with cash in pocket, in the hope of perpetuating those characteristics over the 12 months to come. Parents often press a few coins or bills into the hands of their children just as midnight approaches so their offspring will get the new year off to a prosperous start.

Some believe that wearing underwear of a specific color when the calendar changes favorably influences an important aspect of their lives. Red attracts love and spurs passion; yellow draws wealth and abundance; white propitiates good health. For others it is simply enough to include an old clothing item and another brand new one in their attire to assure overall good fortune.

Año nuevo in many neighborhoods and villages is celebrated with block parties centered around a bonfire set aflame in the street, with plenty of boozing, loud music and noisy fireworks added to raise collective spirits. Although authorities in most places now frown on the practice, it’s not unusual in rural communities for New Year’s celebrants to whip out their pistols or shotguns and fire off a couple of rounds towards the heavens just as the new year dawns.