I am not really superstitious but if rituals won’t kill me, then I comply. I have witnessed my mother’s many New Year’s Eve rituals (and even took part in some).
She would wear a red polka dot dress and put money in her pockets. She would exhort us to do the same. She’d put coins on windowsills and at doorways.
There was a time when she left a bowl of pork and beans on the table all night. Another time, she hung bunches of grapes on doorways all over the house, then at midnight, she ate twelve pieces for good luck, she said. My father said, “You sure are lucky if you can swallow all twelve without choking!!!”
My mother would refuse to serve chicken, shrimp or anything that scratched for our Media Noche. For years, she had to have pork pata in the freezer. But one practice that prevailed was the tray of 6 glasses containing rice, salt, water, coins, sugar and cotton.
She said having those on the table assured us of positive things in life: rice for food; salt for purity, loyalty and durability; water for change and renewal; coins for wealth; sugar for energy and passion; and cotton for a comfortable life she liked to call “cushy.” This tray of “essentials” has become our New Year’s Eve centerpiece as well.
Of course, I know that having those on the table does not assure me or my family that we would have those effortlessly. It was only when I really thought about it that I came to realize that the tray was more of a reminder of the things people consider important rather than wishes or an assurance of the good life.
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