New Years Tradition: Empty Suitcase

Main Piece:

Informant: One other thing that we do on New Years is we get up on top of furniture, like chairs or tables with empty suitcases or carry-on bags. Think luggage for planes. And this has to be at exactly midnight on New Years’ Eve.

Interviewer: Why, why do you guys do this?

Informant: Well, apparently this is supposed to signify or help whoever does this travel more in the coming year.

Interviewer: So if you do this, it is more likely that you will travel in the new year?

Informant: Yes.


My informant is a friend and a fellow student at USC. She was born and raised in Florida but her father comes from Nicaragua and her mother comes from the Appalachian region. This tradition is something she got from her father and is something her entire family does regularly. She is under the impression that this is a common tradition that many families from Latin American countries participate in but she is unsure as to which countries specifically do or don’t participate in it. She thinks of it as another fun, special New Years’ tradition.


I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call


This seems like a fairly straightforward tradition to me. Some researching online shows that it is a tradition in Colombia specifically to do what is essentially the same thing, but walking around the neighborhood instead of standing up on a table. Walking around a neighborhood makes sense because it is like you are imitating on a micro-scale, the travel you will be doing in the future. You’re walking instead of on a plane, you’re holding an empty bag instead of some stuffed luggage. So thinking about why standing on top of furniture would be a part of it, I think it makes sense that by standing on top of furniture a person gets higher up in the air and would, in this way, be simulating the flight that is usually associated with travel.