There was an article in my local newspaper a few days back that talked about some of the traditions for the New Year from around the world. Many of them, we do and others I had heard about. Let me tell you the full agenda of our past New Year’s Eve celebrations.
First of all, we would often have out of town guests or friends over. After dinner, we play “Poverty Poker”. This is regular poker in which everyone buys $10 worth of chips. The “poverty” part is the rule that you still play even if you are out of chips. We play to a specified hour, usually 2:00 in the morning. While we are playing poker, there’s a pot of black-eyed peas with ham hocks and another one with rice cooking on the stove. We always eat pork because pigs push forward unlike chickens that scratch back. You get the idea, right?
As midnight approaches, we pour the champagne and select our pots and wooden spoons. When 12:00 hits, we give kisses and hugs and then, run outside banging our pots and pans, yelling “Happy New Year!” Many of my pots have scars from those nights. Then the champagne and the toast, which is something quite simple: “To good friends and good times.” or “To the best in the coming year.”
We tried the Spanish custom of plopping a grape for each dong of the clock. We had to use the sound of the cuckoo since we don’t own a clock that chimes. We didn’t keep it. We have too many other things to do than sit there and wait for the cuckoo to cuckoo.
A Venezuelan friend of mine taught me this next tradition. We get a suitcase and put some money in it and proceed to run to the corner and back. This was to give us much travel with plenty of money in the coming year. We usually have two suitcases going at a time and it looks like a relay race as everyone takes their turn to the corner in the dark and cold. I never run, I take my time.
Cold and tired, we settle down to the poker game and a small bowl of Hoppin’ Johns for good luck. So much fun.
There are two other traditions that I hold on to on New Year’s Day and that is, I never sweep on the 1st because I don’t want to sweep my good luck out the door. Second, sometime during the day, I will get a small pot, fill it with milk and put it on the stove on high. It needs to boil over. It’s messy, I know, but if it boils over evenly around the rim, that means that the year will be very favorable. If it boils over to one side only, hold on, the year will be bumpy.
I am so pleased to be able to share all our traditions with you. I am closing this year with much joy, blessed by family and many friends. Thank you for being a part of my joy.