New Year’s Traditions


SD is my close friend here at USC. Her parents are both from Columbia and immigrated to the US. Her mother is from Cartagena, Colombia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when she was sixteen. Her father is from Salento, Colombia, and immigrated to Clifton, New Jersey, when he was twenty. They all now reside in Orlando, Florida. 


DO (interviewer): I’m interested to know if your family has any New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day traditions that you practice to ring in the new year?

SD: I think we have a couple different ones in my family. The first one has to do with grapes. With eating grapes. Basically, you get a bunch of grapes New Year’s Eve early in the morning. Then you wait until it’s ten minutes before the New Year comes. So 11:50. Then you start eating grapes. 

DO: Is there something specific that you do or say when eating the grapes? And what significance do the grapes have for your family’s New Year? 

SD: Yes! So. Each grape is the equivalent of one wish. So for each grape that you eat you’ll have one wish granted. So you just have to close your eyes and make a wish and really believe that the wish is gonna come true, then eat the grape and it’s done. 

DO: Nice. I like that. Are there any other traditions that you especially like? 

SD: I wouldn’t say that I like this one per say, but my sisters do. This one just says that you wear a specific color of underwear to sleep on New Year’s Eve and when you wake up on New Year’s Day the process to getting you that thing starts. *pauses* 

SD: Wait, that sounds confusing, let me reword that. Essentially, let’s say that you want to manifest love into your life. You’ll wear red underwear. And so on for all the colors. The colors go like this: yellow is money, green I think is more time outside or in nature, pink is friendship, white is peace, and blue is health. So you wear whatever color underwear to bed right. Then you wake up the next morning and lets keep with the red example. So you wake up the next morning and the universe or God or whatever you believe in is now making the path to get you a nice relationship.

DO: You mentioned that your sisters like this one a lot. How do you feel about it?

SD: I think I’m more of a grapes type of person. Honestly, I’ve been doing that one since I was a kid so I think to me it still has that spark of childhood magic to me. But the underwear thing seems like a scam to me. But who knows. 


After speaking more with the informant, she said these beliefs came from her parent’s Colombian roots. In my family, we also share a similar tradition both with the grapes and the colored underwear, so I believe that this holiday tradition does have ties to Latinx folklore. The grapes can also be considered children’s folklore in this informant’s case. She mentioned how when she was younger, she started off performing these “rituals” so even if they may not actually grant her wishes, she chooses to continue to do so. This shows the importance of children’s folklore and the types of impressions that it leaves on us as we continue to grow. Sometimes things that we consider “magic” as children continue to be a connection to that feeling as we age.