Las doce uvas de la suerte: The twelve grapes of luck

Did you share a kiss with a loved one, make a toast or take a sip of champagne at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, 2017? These are all traditional ways to welcome in the new year in the United States. In Mexico, the same things may be happening, but there are a number of other rituals to be performed prior to the midnight celebration if one is to expect luck in the upcoming year.

Mexican culture is rife with traditions surrounding faith and family, as well as many involving luck and good fortune. These traditions are passed down from one generation to the next, and differ based on the region of the country. Travelling through Mexico is a great adventure as each city or township have their own local customs, and you’re in for a treat if you happen to be there as a new year is ushered in.

To begin with, many people give their homes a thorough cleaning before year-end to push out and bad vibes that may be lingering around the house. A sparkling environment is a way to attract good things in the coming months. Just like we make new year’s resolutions, Mexican people make “wishes”. And just like us, they include the desire to make improvements in certain areas of life like diet, exercise, jobs and relationships.

Photo of red and yellow underwear in Mexican shop

For some, the clothes worn to dinner on December 31st hold importance. One tradition involves wearing all white to attract good health, while another is to wear a brand new item of clothing. And perhaps most interesting is the custom of wearing red and yellow underwear on this occasion. As history tells is, the color red is associated with love and passion and yellow with happiness and prosperity.

Traditional Mexican dinner table setting

Next is the celebratory dinner, which is another chance to improve one’s good fortune. Starting with the table setting, where the best dishes are used and the arrangement of candles and flowers can bring good luck and wealth, to the colors on display, each of which have special meaning. Of course, the biggest moment of all is when the clock strikes midnight. The new year is officially announced by loudly ringing a bell; twelve tolls to be exact. During which time, people are eating twelve grapes — one to bring good luck and wishes fulfilled for each month of the upcoming year. Las doces uvas de la suerte.

Grapes in a champagne glass during Mexican New Year