One of my fondest childhood memories is celebrating New Year’s Eve or Año Viejo in Puerto Rico. You see, for us Puerto Ricans being surrounded by family and friends is everything. The end of year is a symbol of a new beginnings, when people make changes to make their lives better. The major event occurs at midnight, when everybody greets each other and wishes good luck and happiness to everyone.
Another important part of this celebration are the traditional foods served: arroz con gandules, lechón a la varita, pasteles, coquito, pitorro and rice pudding or tembleque. However, like any other good Latino we stick to our rituals no matter how odd they seem. I’d like to share some in case you want to try them. As an “unbiased” Boricua, I promise they work!
- Throw a bucket of water out of the windows to drive away evil spirits.
- A popular tradition that originates from Spain is to eat 12 grapes close to midnight, during the last 12 seconds of the ending year. The tradition consists of eating a grape with each strike of the clock bell. It is believed that if you finish eating all grapes this will lead to a year of prosperity.
- Sprinkling sugar outside the house for good luck.
- If you are near a beach, drop backwards into the breaking waves as the clock strikes 12 to keep bad sprits at bay.
- Singing a poem of ‘El Brindis del Bohemio’ after the midnight arrives.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!