Me: “Hi AA do you have any rituals, practices, or festivals in mind?”
AA: “um, I have this unique ritual or I guess you can call it a folk belief, it actually takes place during New Years Eve.”
Me: “Does it have to do with your culture?”
AA: “Yes, so on New Year’s Eve my Dominican family and I often gather around as we wait for the countdown to midnight. As we wait, my grandma passes out 12 green grapes and a glass of champagne to everyone. In theory, once the clock strikes 12, we are supposed to eat the 12 grapes while making 12 wishes or aspirations for the 12 months of the new year ahead. If you take too long or If you don’t eat the grapes by the time the firecrackers, the cheers, and the celebrations stop, you will have bad luck in the upcoming year; that is why people usually eat their grapes first and then wash it down with champagne before hugging people and celebrating the New Year.”
Context (informant’s relationship to the piece, where they heard it, how they interpret it):
-AA’s relationship to this folk belief/ritual stems from her Dominican culture, family, and household considering this practice and belief system is seen in many parts of Latin America. AA would hear about this ritual/belief all her life given that she has always been exposed to it; she would either host New Years Eve at her home or be invited to other households where the ritual/belief will take place. AA interprets this ritual/belief as a fun, creative, and silly way to pass the time during such a transitional period during the end of the year. AA has noticed that the older people in her family tend to take this belief/ritual more seriously as they often sit alone and think very diligently about each wish. AA believes this has to do with the fact that older generations seem to be more adamant about their religion and faith. In contrast, AA often interprets this practice as a silly entertaining act that shouldn’t be classified as a serious matter.
Analysis(what kind of personal, cultural, or historical values might be expressed) YOUR interpretation:
-The overall cultural value within this New Year’s folk belief/ritual stems from Hispanic culture given that it is typically correlated with Latin American communities and households. Many assume that this ritual/belief is practiced by Hispanic cultures because it involves a profound way of believing which can be found within religious Catholic practices of Hispanic communities. The personal values that can be seen within this belief/ritual is that it allows an individual to embrace their spirituality in a way to remain hopeful for the next year. The factors of religion, beliefs, faith, and optimism are all key factors that one needs to find within themselves personally, in order to truly believe that their 12 wishes will come true; this idea exemplifies one’s conscious beliefs considering the goal is to not receive bad luck. I interpret this ritual/belief as a wholesome manifestation practice. Considering that I have participated in this ritual/belief process during New Year’s Eve as well, I am able to see this process as a familial activity that can bring on hope, optimism, determination, and faith for the upcoming year. I believe this is stemmed from one’s spiritual beliefs, considering if you truly believe in your wish, you will do everything in your power to make it come true. This ritual/belief can be seen as an overall superstition given the fact that the idea of one’s wishes coming true is a striking concept that an individual can choose to believe in. Not to mention, this New Years belief/ritual is a subjective ideology that can be determined by one’s overall level of value and meaning that they place upon it; this can be seen within older generations as their religious and spiritual beliefs allows them to be more invested in their wishes, as depicted by AA’s family. A similar ritual/belief that involves the same notions of wishes and manifestations is the practice of walking outside with a suitcase as the clock strikes midnight during New Years as well; this is done to signify luck for travel in the upcoming year.