Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva

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Can you believe it’s almost 2010? Is it really possible that a nice bottle of wine from 2003 is now considered vintage?  Does that make Gustavo Cerati a viejo and Willie Colon from the Stone Age?

According to the ancient wisdom of the Mayan calendar, we have about two more years to get our act together. En pocas palabras, become better people than we are now and rise our astral vibrations to an enlightened level, so that we can stand by, unaffected, as the world flips it’s electro-magnetic axels (or as a gargantuan asteroid plummets to earth) in 2012, creating, well, apocalypse. Or at least something like it.

Whether you’re calling it “2010” or just “10”, you may be feeling just a tad uneasy about all these big new numbers and perhaps pursuing some extra luck to keep you feeling protected. Surely abuela’s superstitions suddenly seem quite compelling. Fear not chicos, we’ve gathered the best clues, lore and ancient superstition to ensure loads of financial luck, sex, traveling and a generally happy next 12 months. (At least we hope the chupacabras and demonios will keep at bay). It’s up to you to take what you want, light up a vela, and ask the Mayan god Quetzoquatl, or La Divina Providencia (which ever you prefer) to slip you through the eye of the needle, unharmed, at midnight, December 31rst 2009.


We hope at this point you’ve already got your fridge stashed with some juicy grapes, (pop 12 and make a wish with each) that you’ve stocked up on the special underwear (yellow for luck, red for passion and love), lentils to fill your pockets (for prosperity) and jewelry to drop into your champagne glass as you toast in 2010 (prosperity). Don’t forget to dust off your suitcases and have them lined up and ready for a brisk jog around the block at midnight, along with loads of cash in your wallet, and a good clean house. (Travel, financial luck and keeping the demonios away.)

For a little extra protection you can also fill up buckets of water, which at the stroke of midnight must be splashed, out your window, onto the street. (Just be sure not to soak any pedestrians). This will keep the malignant spirits away for another year.


Similarly in Brazil, wearing all white and jumping over seven waves at midnight promises love and luck. Devotees will also offer gifts, flowers and float candles on the ocean in honor of the Goddess of the Water. Fisherman take this one quite seriously following many superstitions involving the magic of the ocean. For example the amount of fish caught on New Year’s Day reflects the year of fishing ahead.

In Ecuador and a few other Latin American countries, there is the traditional burning of the “año viejo (old year) which is represented as a large doll. These elaborate dolls, or home made crude straw figures, are sold on every street corner, and once purchased are often then made to look like a family member. The lucky family member chosen as the año viejo writes up a witty and rather silly will, of all the things he or she will leave behind and to whom. Often times these funny dolls are tied to cars and bicycles as the new year approaches. Then, at midnight of the new year, the dolls, or, the old year, are burned in big fires on the streets. Many people will try jump over the burning charred piles of dolls for good luck, hopefully not burning themselves. Sounds a little voodoo-istic, we know, but it can’t hurt, right?

While many of us celebrate the New Year in the dead of winter and only once a year, Ecuador also has the Celebration of the SunInti Raymi, which is one of the most important ancestral celebrations of the indigenous communities in Northern Ecuador. Hey, two New Years in one year? Sounds good to us.

Not so keen on burning dolls? Would you rather revisit your Catholic roots and get cozy with candles, family and the superstitions of la Divina Providencia? Here’s a great little ritual you can perform to invoke magic and buena vibras. (Maybe you’ll even fall to the ground while speaking in tongues, and have a shining apparition).
At the stroke of midnight, place your twelve candles in a circle, white in the center, on a plate of clay also holding incense, myrrh and frankincense- a combination called “sahumerio” (think Three Kings). Light up each vela at midnight, and before blowing them out, be sure to leave the white vela lit for the duration of the night of the new year. Family members can bring a colored vela of their choice and must be sure to light it from the center white vela. If you want to really invite in the good vibes and magic energy of the la Divina Providencia, be sure to light up a candle the first of every month and say a prayer. It goes without saying that mass is must, be sure to pray to your favorite saint.

Which Vela Will You Pick?

White: purity, love, truth, harmony, health and spirituality

Yellow: mental power attraction, love

Red: Love, passion, sexual energy

Green: money, fame, harmony, fertility

Blue: family harmony, mental balance, peace, serenity

Pink: Love, honor, moral

Purple: meditation, spirituality, serious health issues

Orange: courage, stimulation, attraction

Brown: lost items, personal achievement, judgment

Gold: money success, love, work

Silver: Success in operations, health and money

Whether you’ll take our advice and burn dolls, change into yellow underwear at midnight, or light up twelve vela, we hope at least a little luck will rub off on you for the new year. And have no fear for the big 2010, we made it through Y2K. Right? Just remember, it’s never too late to start fresh. Like they say, “año nuevo, vida nueva”. Feliz año nuevo!!!


Cavar un pozo antes de que tenga sed

Dig your well before you become thirsty =Don’t wait until it’s too late

Quein de dos relojes se sirve, no sabe la hora en que vive = The person with two watches does not know the hour in which he lives

Cuando la de malas llega, la de buenos do dilata = When the bad time arrives, the good times are never far behind

El viaje mas largo empieze con el primer paso = The longest journey begins with the first step

Unos nacen con estrella, otros estrellados = Some are born with a lucky star, others more like a broken star

Vale mas suerte que dinero = Luck is worth more than money

El que quiera tener fortuna y fama, no le pegue el sol en la cama = If its fame and fortune you prize, don’t let sunlight hit you before you rise

El sapo a la sapa la tiene por muy guapa = The frog believes his woman frog to be beautiful (Love is blind)

Amor que ha sido brasa, de repente vuelve a arder = A love that has been a burning coal will soon reignite

De los retozos resultan los mocosos = The fun and frolic of foreplay results in snotty kids

Amor; amor, nada hay peor ni mejor =Love, love-nothing below it, nothing above

Photo by Stephanie Hartka