New Year’s Traditions


AG is my friend from back home in Chicago, Illinois. She was born in Joliet, Illinois and then moved to Chicago when she was five years old. Her mother was born and raised in Joliet and is of Mexican descent. Her father immigrated to California when he was twenty five years old from El Salvador. He then moved to Joliet when he was thirty. 


DO (interviewer):  I know that we often talk about certain superstitions or things that our families do during the holidays. Can you talk to me more about which one or ones you consider to be your favorite? Or one, or ones, that you do the most often?

AG: The one we have the most fun with is probably the suitcase one on New Years. It’s so fun dude. 

DO: Can you talk more about it? 

AG: So, the saying goes. Once midnight hits on New Year’s Eve, so technically I guess it’s New Year’s Day at that point. Anyway. Once it hits you run around with an empty suitcase. Just around your block a few times and this will ensure that you travel a lot in the upcoming year. 

DO: What does this tradition mean to you and what’s your stance on it? Do you believe it works?

AG: Well, growing up we were mad poor. You know this. Even after we moved to the city we didn’t have much money, you know? So it was fun to just run around with my parents and just dream and hope. I’ve traveled a few times throughout my life so I’d say that even if it doesn’t work I’d like to think it does. I’ve never not done it because I wanna travel girl! 


The informant and her family have this holiday tradition/ritual every year to bring in lots of traveling. My family also has similar stories of performing this tradition when they were younger, so there are cultural ties to this. However, this empty suitcase travel method is a ritual not tied to a specific cultural community; many cultures have some variation of this lore. Past just performing it because of cultural beliefs, the informant holds a particular superstition about it. She believes that if she doesn’t stick to this tradition, then she will travel less. As she also mentioned, this was a way for her and her family to remain hopeful for future fun during rough times. It is special to the informant for this reason, and she continues to perform it and believes that it helps her travel more.