Tag Archives: wearing dots

Ritual: New Year’s Polka Dots


The informant claimed that a lot of rituals they remember performing take place around the New Year. “One would be wearing polka dots or, as my mom calls it, bola bola. Because circles represent coins– so like wealth and good fortune in the New Year. She encourages literally everyone in my family to wear polka dots. There was one year where we all found Hawaiian shirts that had polka dots and so that was a little theme for the New Year. It was so cute.”


“Financially, it’s always been a little hope that my mom has– like a little bit of faith. Like ‘Maybe the New Year will be better for us financially.’ It’s a thing my mom does. She’s a very superstitious person, so she always has hope in the New Year. She always tries to bring the family together, so that hope can be spread to her family. And she can be surrounded by a similar hope as well.”

“My mom,” they spoke fondly. “It started being more prominent in middle school for me. That’s like the earliest I can remember. I she she kind of, like leans on these kinds of traditions when she feels like she needs it most. With doing a simple thing like wearing polka dots– I think around middle school was when we started facing a lot of financial issues very prominently. My mom is a woman in faith, so she finds comfort in so many different things.

“[My mom] definitely uses it as like a comfort method for sure. Not really like a defense mechanism, but a ways to kind of like cope with certain things. Giving her that sense of nostalgia that I’m pretty sure she felt with her family growing up.”


Polka dots or bola bola are a popular pattern that’s believed to bring wealth and prosperity. This is similar to other beliefs that link prosperity to a particular color, but the complexity of a patterned fabric may be what warrants this belief. With the arrival of a New Year, it’s a common held belief that there will be changes made to one’s life whether it be fate or their own control. Wearing the polka dot pattern on the transition into a new year may be a way to “perform the part” that the participant wishes for themself to be. It’s almost like pretending to be what you’re not, and from then on, transforming into what was done for pretend.