Yellow knickers for a ¡Feliz ano nuevo!

30 Dec

ImageI’ve never been more excited about spending New Year’s Eve at home as I am this year, as we’ll be celebrating Mexican style!  Complete with delicious food that couldn’t be less like Christmas dinner (thank goodness), plenty of rum and tequila, cut paper decorations and a few of the bonkers rituals the Mexicans practise.  Which is why I need to find some yellow knickers.  Where do I find yellow knickers in the Dulwich area before tomorrow evening?  A tricky one that, but I must find them because according to our Mexican friends, I won’t be granted my wish for 2013 of happiness and prosperity without them!

Mexico is the perfect place to look for New Years Eve inspiration because everything about Mexico is just FUN and bright and beautiful.  We were there a couple of years ago and totally fell in love with its warmth, colour, music and creativity, and we found the Mexican people to be friendly, relaxed and delightfully resourceful.  We were there just after Día de los Muertos, so we missed the celebrations, but one night we went to a wonderful restaurant in Tulum which was in the owner’s garage.  She’d decorated it with cut paper-bag lanterns, sugar skull skeletons, paper chains and battered old furniture.  Eating our dinner in a garage by candlelight whilst being watched over by a trio of guitar-playing skeletons was both cosy and fascinating at the same time.  The food was exceptional too and the whole experience perfectly reflected the friendly, laid-back, handmade, rich and creative Mexican culture.

Having looked into how the Mexicans celebrate New Year I thought I’d share it on – they really are a bonkers lot!

Traditions and rituals

papel

Papel Picado is the Mexican folk art of paper-cutting.  The colourful, intricate designs are traditionally cut into tissue paper using a variety of tools including scissors, chisels and hole-punches.  They are made to celebrate religious festivals and national holidays and can be hung on string to create banners, turned into lanterns, napkins, tablecloths and so on.  Here’s a simple how-to to follow to make a colourful banner.

Colour of Decorations.  Just in case the knickers fail to work (!) people in Mexico people make decorations in the colour that reflects their wish for the year ahead:

Red: General improvement in lifestyle and love
Yellow: Blessings of improved employment conditions
Green: Improved financial circumstances
White: Improved health

The Twelve Grapes is a Spanish tradition that dates back to at least 1895.  The Spanish, Mexicans and other Latin American countries eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight to bring prosperity in the New Year.  Mexicans make a wish with every grape and each grape represents a different month of the year – get a sweet grape and it’ll be a good month, get a sour grape and it’ll be a bad one.  I’m going to give this a go but have to admit I am worried I won’t be able to think of wishes and eat so quickly, especially after a few too many drinks, but we’ll see!

To banish all negative energy Mexicans like to write a list of all the bad things that happened in the previous year and ceremonially burn it before midnight arrives.

Taking the suitcase for a walk.  An obvious one this?!  Mexicans can be found taking an empty suitcase for a walk at midnight to represent the distance to be travelled in the new year.

Sweep in good fortune.  Others will open their front door at midnight and sweep out the previous year, then drop coins outside and sweep them in for prosperity in the new year.

Food and Drink

Mexicans traditionally have a late dinner with family to celebrate the New Year. Bacalao is the staple New Year meal in Mexico – a dried salted codfish.

rosca

Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings cake) is a Mexican sweet bread that is generally baked in the New Year in preparation for the Epiphany on 6th January.  It symbolises both the crowns of the Three Kings and God’s unending love.  They bake a charm or a tiny figure of baby Jesus into it and the person who finds the charm is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day. In the Mexican culture, this person also has to throw a party!

Ponche Con Piccante is a hot, spiced cider that is traditionally drunk on New Year.  Sounds yum to me.

We’re going to mix this up with a few Mexican faves such as pulled pork, tacos and of course, churros!  I’ll post some pics afterwards.  ¡Feliz ano nuevo! may all your New Year wishes come true.

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One Response to “Yellow knickers for a ¡Feliz ano nuevo!”

  1. RobiniArt January 3, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    I agree! Mexicans have a true appreciation of life, food, color, texture…. all of it!

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