Join to recieve our newsletter

Inside México Logo

 Culture & Traditions

New Year’s Rituals in Mexico

by Chela Orozco


With the arrival of a new year in Mexico, hopes for better times also arrive. In the Mexican culture, so full of traditions, year-end rituals are an important part of popular belief for finding love, money, good luck and hey, why not? – even winning a new car. 

There are an endless number of rituals, perhaps one for every Mexican family, and they’re passed on from generation to generation. 

Some rituals have religious backgrounds, like praying the rosary, attending mass before 12o’clock and lighting candles, but most have more to do with luck and good fortune.

Here are some of the most common:

According to tradition, before the end-of-the-year dinner, thoroughly cleaning the house is recommended  to get rid of bad vibes and to attract better things. 

Making a wish list is part of the year-end ritual; write them down and have them on hand for the rest of the year. Common goals include losing weight, quitting smoking, changing jobs, healthy eating and why not? – even ending a relationship.

The clothing worn at the year-end dinner also has a special meaning for some people. Some tend to dress in white clothing to ward off illness and to attract good health.     Most people, however,  use garments especially worn for the first time for that evening: coats, shawls, hats, scarves, sweaters, shirts, ties and curiously, under all those warm clothes, red and yellow underwear. 

The reds are used to attract love and passion … ¿The yellow?… to attract happinessand wealth

When evening comes,  it’s customary to turn on each of the house lights so that, according to custom, prosperity and success radiate throughout the year. 

Preparing and decorating the table for dinner is also a ritual-filled process. The dinner is plentiful, with a great variety of flavors: sweet, strong, spicy and  sour…  and of course;beverages: both with and without alcohol. 

The table is arranged with the best tablecloth, the most luxurious  dishes and sparkling glasses for the midnight toast. Red and gold predominate on the table , as well ascandles at the center and floral arrangements to attract good luck and prosperity. A special wish and … well,  now follow this guide to learn what color candle you should place: 

Blue brings peace- yellowabundance-  red:  passion-  green:  health- white:  clarity and orange: intelligence.

So you think that there’re already too many things to do, huh ? Just wait until midnight for a parade of more rituals:

At the stroke of 12 midnight, it’s customary to ring a bell and ring it loudly. No home should be without this item for it symbolizes the home’s joy and happiness

While the bells are sounding,  everyone eats 12 grapes — symbolizing the wishes for each month of the New Year. 

Immediately afterwards come the hugs and kisses session with relatives and friends, which represents  love and companionship for each other and for their loved ones. 

When a couple person receives hugs and kisses; they are assured that the year will be full of romance. 

Finally, a toast is made with sparkling wine because its bubbles represent the spark of happiness that you want to have all year long.

Then each person starts with their personal rites of which the best known are:

– Throwing a glass of water out towards the street symbolizes expelling tears, worries and negativity.

– Placing a coin in a shoe or a ticket in their pocket when the person seeks economic prosperity. Or there are also those who customarily eat a handful of lentils.

– Sweep with a broom from the door to the street when you want to drive out bad vibes, troubles and negative things from the home.

– For those who want a certain person to give them their love during the new year; tie a redribbon together with a picture of the person and sleep with them under your pillow that night.

– Those who take a couple of suitcases and go around the block, do it because they want to take a trip … the farther the walk, the farther their trip will be. If it’s with their pair, both take the walk.

– For those who wish to marry, it’s recommended that they should sit and stand up on each of the 12 chimes of the clock.

– Want a promotion at work? Get up on a ladder or stand on a chair and be higher than others.

– For those who like rituals with candles, you can light three candles in a triangle at exactly 12 midnight. One must be red, one green and one yellow, together with nine grains of rice, nine lentils and nine gold coins — no matter what their value — to pray for the family’s prosperity, abundance and love, and so on.

In short, there’s a bit of everything on this evening: some are happy, others cry out of sadness, some like to celebrate it alone and others in the company of their entire family. But the majority practice religious, deep, funny, old, or bizarre rituals; all with the aim of keeping alive the hope of  bringing on better days for all.

Read more on Mexican New Year’s Celebrations:  Mexican Traditions: Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mexico. 

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Related Articles